Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday announced that the central government would spend Rs. 50,000 crore to improve the condition of roads in Uttar Pradesh before December 2015.
The minister was speaking in Basti after inaugurating two major road projects there.
Expressing concern over the dilapidated condition of roads in Uttar Pradesh, he said countries like United States were ahead in development because of improved road connectivity. The union minister also laid the foundation stone of National Highway 230 in Siddharthnagar on the border of Nepal. With a cost of Rs. 570 crore, the NH230 connecting Kakrahawa Rudhauli-Kalwari and Varanasi is one of the mega projects being undertaken by the Centre.
Terming UP as one of the mostbackward and poverty ridden states, he said good roads were needed for progress of the entire country.
Gadkari also said that waterways development would be his top priority due to its lower fare cost compared to rail and road transport. “Development of waterways will be done on priority as fare on it is one fourth of the rail and road fare. We are also eyeing aircraft that can run on water,” the minister said.
As against the five waterways functional in the country, the government was planning development of 101 more, including one in Saryu river.
“The work on developing 12 terminals on Varanasi to Haldia (Kolkata) waterway will start within two months and would cost around Rs. 4,200 crore,” he said. The minister also touched on the plight of sugar mills due to the fall in prices of the sweetener globally. Gadkari said the government did not want the mills to close down and emphasised on production of molasses, power and ethanol. “Use of ethanol is cheap and pollution free as compared to petrol and diesel,” he said.
He also said that his ministry was planning to run ethanol-operated buses. Highlighting modernisation of transport offices, Gadkari said that for monitoring of cases of traffic and Motor Vehicle Act violation, satellites would be used. He said about 800 computerised centres were being opened for preparation of driving licences.
“It’s a matter of concern that 30 per cent drivers were driving on roads with bogus licences and they were not even trained enough. Due to road accidents, 1.5 lakh persons were dying every year and three lakh becoming handicapped,” he said.
Gadkari said the 455-km road between Ayodhya (UP) to Sitamadhi (Bihar) would be upgraded into national highway.
Later the minister visited Gorakhpur where he laid the foundation for widening of Jangal Kauria National Highway 29. Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath accompanied him, Gadkari also visited Gorakhnath temple where he paid tributes to late Mahant Avaidyanath.