Economy

Gadkari pitches for higher priority for rural, farm sectors

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on January 19, 2018

Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, at the BusinessLine ‘Count Down to Union Budget 2018’ conference in Mumbai on Friday   -  PAUL NORONHA

‘More farm growth will also curb migration to urban areas’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should give “more priority” to agriculture and rural sectors in the upcoming Union Budget, said Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, at a pre-Budget event organised by BusinessLine in Mumbai on Friday.

“This will solve urban problems and change the face of rural India,” he said.

India’s urban centres have been facing stress due to “migration” of people from rural areas due to lack of employment and poor quality of life.

Gadkari said that the government has set a target of doubling agriculture income by 2022 and raising the agriculture growth rate to more than 10 per cent.

“This will be a landmark for the country,” he said.

The Cabinet, Gadkari said, is expected to flag off a proposal to allow use of ethanol as fuel for vehicles to cut down the country’s huge annual crude oil import bill of about ₹7 lakh crore.

The strategy is to reduce logistics costs, increase exports and improve employment potential.

Stressing the importance of “world class infrastructure” for the all-round development of the country, the Minister said that currently 28 km of roads are being built per day from 2 km per day in 2014, before the Modi government came to power. Next year, it will touch 40 km per day, he said.

The Cabinet has approved the Bharatmala project estimated to cost about ₹7,50,000 crore, Gadkari added.

About 20,000 km of river length have been converted into navigable waterways, while work on five more waterways will start in the next three months.

Six new major ports will be built, of which three will be in Maharashtra.

State-owned companies controlled by the Shipping Ministry are expected to end FY18 with a net profit of about ₹7,000 crore.

About ₹16 lakh crore is expected to be invested in the Sagarmala programme, of which ₹4 lakh crore will be spent on modernising and upgrading ports and ₹12 lakh crore in setting up 14 industrial clusters.

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India’s biggest container gateway, has allotted six plots to investors in its proposed port-based (special economic) zone. “This will involve an investment of ₹6,000 crore and generate employment for 40,000 people,” he said.

Work on building an express highway linking Mumbai with Vadodara will start next month, entailing an investment of ₹44,000 crore.

A ₹6,000-crore rail link project between Indore and Manmad will be take up shortly, he said.

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Published on January 19, 2018
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