Road projects worth Rs 62,000 crore have been undertaken in the national capital to ease traffic congestions, and tackle the problem of pollution, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.
Replying to a debate on the Demands for Grants for Road Transport and Highways Ministry, 2022-23, in the Lok Sabha, Gadkari recalled how he used to get stuck for an hour in Dhaula Kuan traffic every time he used to travel to and from the airport.
In 2019, Gadkari had inaugurated a three-lane underpass at Parade Road junction near Dhaula Kuan in Delhi to ease the traffic moving from Delhi to the airport and Gurugram.
"We are trying to lessen pollution. My department is spending Rs 62,000 crore only for tackling Delhi pollution. We made Ring Road and other roads so that pollution comes down," Gadkari said. The minister further said he endeavours to make the road infrastructure in India at par with the United States by 2040.
In this context, he referred to a famous quote by former US President John F Kennedy "American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good".
Highlighting the improvement in highway connectivity and road infrastructure, Gadkari said that it now takes only 40 minutes to travel to Meerut from Delhi, as against four hours earlier.
"Our aim is to reduce the cost of construction and improve the quality," he said, adding the milestone of 38 km/day road construction, which is a world record, was achieved by India last year.
On the progress in the building of infrastructure, the minister said that road travel between Delhi to Jaipur; and Delhi to Haridwar now takes 2 hours. Similarly, the travel time from Delhi to Amritsar is now four hours.
Gadkari said that connectivity between Delhi to Mumbai will be improved such that the travel time is reduced to 12 hours and added that "we will complete within this year".
"From Ladakh, Leh to Srinagar we will go to Mumbai.... before the end of this year, we will try that from Srinagar you are able to reach Mumbai in 20 hours," the minister said.
Work is on in full swing for the Zojila tunnel in Kashmir and is expected to be completed by 2024, much before the scheduled target of 2026, he said.
Gadkari said currently 70 per cent of goods and 90 per cent of the passenger traffic are travelling by road, as he highlighted the importance of becoming more competitive and reducing logistics costs.
Even as India builds a massive road infrastructure, it is taking every step to safeguard the ecological aspects, Gadkari said, adding that about 1,000 specialised contractors, who can transplant trees, will ensure that they are not cut down.
With PTI inputs.