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Spectacular surges in surface transport

Nitin Gadkari has been making waves by his imaginative schemes on coastal shipping, port development inland waterways and expansion of highways.

Spectacular surges in surface transport

Gadkari’s Sagar Mala is by far the most imaginative and ambitious of schemes to use effectively the nation’s riverine and coastal endowments. Under the Sagarmala Development Company (SDC), 415 projects have been identified across India for port modernisation and new port development, port connectivity enhancement, port-linked industrialisation and coastal community development. The projects are to be implemented in phases at a projected cost of USD 123 billion (around  Rs 800,000 crore) over 10 years. 

Another initiative is the recently inaugurated roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry service through Sea of Khambhat connecting Gogha in Bhavnagar district with Dahej in Baruch district of Gujarat to facilitate transfer of both passengers and cargo in sophisticated ships. The new facility reduces the distance  from 360 km to 31 km and travel time from 8 hours to just an hour! The Rs 650 crore ferry service project developed by Gujarat Maritime Board will have capacity to carry about 70 trucks, 100 four-wheelers and 500 passengers.

 

The coastline advantage...

Our long coastline, unfortunately, has not been put to effective use despite a long tradition of maritime experience. Indian ships have a very small share of the total import and export cargo. Over time, large Indian shipping companies like India Steamship Co Ltd and The Scindia Steam Navigation Co have vanished due to lack of policy and encouragement. 

Look at the advantages and economics of the recently inaugurated shipping service linking Chennai port with the Mongla port in Bangladesh. Ashok Leyland, large manufacturer and exporter of commercial vehicles, recently shipped 185 trucks from the Chennai port to Bangladesh. In the RO-RO cum general cargo vessel, trucks were directly driven into the ship and flagged off by Gadkari.  The Minister of State for Shipping, Pon. Radhakrishnan, was present at the Chennai Port.

 

Trucks transferred by ships...

Look at the change: hitherto the trucks were individually driven over a distance of 1500 km by road suffering detention and delays at the numerous state and country borders and used to take almost 25-30 days; at the wear and tear on the trucks, needing checks and refits at the destination; at the scope for accidents…. The advantages include the saving of 15-20 days of transfer time, cost economies and a more environment-friendly transfer. Vinod Dasari, Managing Director of Ashok Leyland and his team deserve congratulations on impressing the shipping minister and getting this facility launched

30km plus of roads a day...

One sees Gadkari’s rich contributions even more visible in the expansion of highways. The brilliant scheme introduced by the Vajpayee government of expansion of national highway development revolutionised road transport. The simple and elegant levy of a cess on petrol and diesel with equal share of revenues between the Centre and the states helped in a quantum jump in road construction. Sadly, however, the programme suffered under the UPA with average additions dropping to 3 km per day. The scheme was bogged down by environmental and other clearances. Suave Gadkari has been effective in getting these clearances from the different states and has stepped up highway construction to 30 km a day and is targeting to raise it to 40 km per day! The scheme, earlier ridden with corruption and delays, is transparent and clean.

The introduction of GST has ended at one go the numerous check posts that detained vehicles and involved a lot of corruption. And greatly eased the flow of traffic and hence the improved turnaround of trucks. 

In a recent interview to India TV the suave Gadkari received wholesome praise from unexpected quarters: from Telangana IT Minister, K T Ramarao belonging to the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) and, even more interestingly, Pondicherry Chief Minister, V Narayanaswamy, at loggerheads with the Governor and the Central government!

Another brilliant idea of Gadkari, the Bharatmala Pariyojana  at a cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore, is a large highway construction project under which almost 50,000 km roads are to be built across the country. This is aimed to improve connectivity on economic corridors, border and far flung areas with an aim of quicker movement of cargo and larger exports.

In his recent visit to Tamil Nadu Gadkari stated that his ministry has decided to transfer surplus water from Godavari river to Krishna and Pennar rivers and finally to Cauvery. 300 TMC would be transferred from the Godavari to the Polavaram project (in Andhra Pradesh) through Nagarjuna Sagar Dam and to river Krishna. After that water will be taken to Somasila dam on the Pennar and from there it will be taken to the Grand Anaicut on the river Cauvery through steel pipes and not by canal, he said. Through this initiative around 100TMC can be carried to the Cauvery thereby making available ample water to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana will be benefited from this project, he said.

Also road projects worth around Rs.60,000 crore and several thousand crore worth of projects in logistics and ports have been sanctioned for Tamil Nadu. –SV


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