Nitin Gadkari roasted officials at NHA event. He explains why he got ‘annoyed’
Ownership, transparency and corruption-free system are very important in order to implement the projects launched by the government, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday during the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. Gadkari was commenting on his remarks during the opening of the new National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) building in Gujarat last month. Gadkari had lashed out at non-performing officials during the virtual opening and on Friday he pointed out what was amiss.
“Unfortunately, that was really a wrong thing. There was some problem, some fault with some of the officials who were not taking decisions. So, I advised them that ownership is very important. Transparency, corruption-free system, fast decision-making process and commitment for quality are very important,” he said. “We are working for the nation. These are the projects which are the ornaments of the nation,” he said.
As an example of the “lot of good people doing excellent jobs”, Gadkari talked about the Zojila Tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir, to ensure all-weather connectivity between the Srinagar Valley and Leh. The minister said officers worked hard to save Rs 5,000 crore on the project. “My reaction was spontaneous related to that NHAI project and that day I was annoyed,” he said.
Gadkari had said during the October event that it was time to show exit door to “non-performing assets” complicating and delaying projects by creating obstacles. NHAI, he had said, has become a breeding ground for inefficient officials creating hurdles and referring every matter to committees and that it was time to ‘suspend’ and ‘terminate’ them and bring in reforms in its functioning.
“Non-performing assets (NPAs) not worth of doing even vermiculture are preserved here and being promoted... I feel ashamed at the attitude of such officials who are carrying such legacies,” Gadkari had said while expressing his unhappiness over the delay in the construction of the NHAI building. He said the building project for which tender was awarded in 2011, took almost nine years to complete and saw seven NHAI chairmen and two governments.
On Friday, Gadkari said there has been no impact of the coronavirus pandemic on road construction projects. “The capacity of the construction equipment manufacturers has increased by 80 per cent, that is almost double,” the minister said.
Gadkari said that one of the major initiatives has been to improve the situation of the builders and contractors in “these difficult economic times”.
He also said that FASTag will be made mandatory within two to three months. “We plan to complete the FASTags procedure in the next two to three months,” the minister said, adding that a portal is being developed for real-time updates on black spots on highways to prevent accidents.
“Road accidents and deaths have reduced by almost 20 per cent,” he also said.
Gadkari, who had contracted the coronavirus disease in September, also said people must take preventive measure like wearing masks and maintaining distance, seriously to keep Covid-19 away. “First of all, using masks is very important. My only suggestion to people is that be serious. Don’t take it lightly. On a flight, going to the market, on the road, take these preventive measures. Life is very important,” the Union minister for road transport and highways and MSMEs said while speaking with Zakka Jacob, managing editor of CNN-News18, on Day 4 of HTLS 2020.
Gadkari had tested positive for the coronavirus disease in September after he attended the monsoon session of Parliament.