Terming the Planning Commission as an "armchair advisor", oblivious to the ground realities, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath today said he was forewarned that the Plan panel would not allow him to achieve a 20 km-a-day road-building target.
Sharing a dais with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in New Delhi at a programme organised by the commission, Nath said, "When I joined this ministry... everybody asked me that Planning Commission will never let you do (building 20 km a day)."
Earlier this year, the Planning Commission had said the ministry was being over-ambitious in its target for building 20 km of roads every day and advised it to be realistic in approach.
Taking a dig at the commission for its assessment that the target set by the Road Transport Ministry was not realistic, Nath said, "Producing a book is one thing and producing a road is another thing."
He even questioned the quality of reports produced by the Plan panel. "You (Planning Commission) collect something from here, something from there and produce a book. It is all very well when you are an armchair advisor," he remarked, adding "Book (report) should not only be well-bound, but it should have content also."
Later, talking to reporters, Ahluwalia termed Nath's broadside as "constructive criticism". He agreed that there are problems within the commission. "We are are sorting them out," he said.
Nath said as a politician he has remained in public life for several years and was aware of the ground realities, which the Planning Commission was not aware of.
Referring to the public-private-partnership model, he said it cannot be one-size fits all.
"Building a road in Kerala is different from building a road in Assam or Madhya Pradesh. We have to have a concept which has flexibility. PPP for Kerala has to be different from Madhya Pradesh," Nath said.
The Road Transport Minister had unveiled an investment target of Rs 2,76,000 crore for the 2009-2014 period.