Integrated approach to transportation, agri-diversification needed to boost economy: Nitin Gadkari
New Delhi: Integrated approach to transportation system, persification of agriculture into energy and power, and development of industrial clusters outside metro cities are the need of the hour to boost the Indian economy, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said. The road transport, highways and MSME minister also urged industry to look at public-private partnership (PPP) for various projects, be it transport-related or agriculture, for sustainable development of far-flung rural and tribal areas.
Addressing a webinar on ‘India Roadmap on Low Carbon and Sustainable Mobility’ conducted by industry body Ficci, Gadkari said, “We need to think about an integrated approach towards transportation system. We need to support all kinds of transportation whether road, water, rail or air for developing an indigenous, sustainable and economically viable transportation system.”
He said that during the current coronavirus-induced economic crisis, there is a need for projects on PPP to boost the economy and urged industry players to come forward in this direction, be it a bus port or godowns or industrial facilities.
At the same time, he said that given the overpopulation of metropolises, it is time to focus on development of rural and tribal areas and shifting or setting up industrial clusters there to generate employment and decongest cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune.
“COVID-19 has posed economic crisis and challenges… We need to convert this into opportunity… We need to think about an integrated approach for upliftment of urban and rural population including 115 aspirant districts,” the minister said.
He said the priority of the government is to develop indigenous, low-carbon, sustainable, economically viable, pollution-free and cost-effective transportation system, which also provides comfort to the poor people of the country.
He said the government will play the role of a facilitator and support the private sector in its initiatives for developing sustainable transportation system.
Industry should consider various aspects of sustainable transportation system which comprises low-carbon fuels, electric vehicles, water transportation, conversion of diesel vehicles to LNG and CNG, use of ethanol, methanol and hydrogen fuels for vehicles. He added that industry should then reach out to concerned state governments and ministries and suggest changes in the policies for developing implementable and economically viable projects.
The minister said industry should look at public-private partnerships and adopt an integrated approach for developing new models of transportation.
“There is a need to decongest metro cities and…to create industrial clusters and smart cities,” he said adding that while the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is acquiring land along highways, there is enough scope of setting up industrial clusters.
Giving example of Delhi, the minister said, “For its decongestion, we should not allow any type of godowns, particularly in city areas, whether for hardware, food, grocery or other things and look at building these outside.”
Also, the minister stressed the need to persify agriculture into power and energy and added that the ethanol economy has potential to reach Rs 1 lakh crore.
Ethanol can easily be made from rice, wheat, sugar and other foodgrains and it is right time for persification given the surplus production, he said.
He urged automobile manufacturers to come out with flex-engine vehicles on the pattern of developed nations and also focus on CNG and LNG vehicles.
At the same time, he said telecommunication infrastructure like towers should be shifted to CNG and LNG from diesel to check pollution.
“There is a need to promote electric vehicles also,” he said.
The minister also launched a report, titled ‘India Roadmap on Low Carbon and Sustainable Mobility (Decarbonisation of Indian Transport Sector)’, developed by FICCI and supported by knowledge partners, WWF-India, PPMC (Paris Process on Mobility and Climate), and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation.