Nath promises action on roads

May 30, 2009

Once the high-profile commerce minister making India’s voice heard at global trade fora, Kamal Nath is now tasked with putting the country’s teetering highway projects on track. The surface transport ministry had drawn criticism for slippage in project implementation and delay in awarding contracts , but the new minister says actions will speak for themselves . Excerpts from an interview:

What will be the key focus areas of the new government?

In the past, there has been enough planning. Now thoughts have to be transformed into action. We have to ensure that the system and platforms are workable. Performance has to be measured not in terms of plans, but actual work. Things have to be looked at in a new way. In a few weeks, a new model will be found so that India can build the highest number of road kilometres. We have to see that all the outlays are utilised. A successful plan is that which is converted into action.

There have been talks of roads as a stimulus to the economy…

The greater the outlay on construction of roads, the greater the impetus to the economy. If you look at the development of countries like China, Japan and those in Europe, it is all based on their roads and other major infrastructure. There could be better airports but without good roads it doesn’t help much. Along with highways, rural roads too have to be given proper attention.

Earlier, there were delays on the part of the government… but a big hurdle was the paucity of cash owing to the impacts of the financial slowdown, which too delayed project implementation…

We will meet all the states in a month’s time to remove the bottlenecks . Some old regulatory frameworks on transportation such as multiple permit and others have to be reviewed . We are looking at new models . We will look at new ways of capital inflow.


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