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Covid-19: Govt to accelerate highway construction, settle pending claims, arbitrations, says Gadkari

Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari. (ANI.)Premium
Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari. (ANI.)

  • The minister said that he has asked officials to make the best use of the lockdown, work overtime and complete pending work
  • The minister has also asked National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and its arbitration units to decide matters within three months

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said that highways construction needs to be increased up to two-three times to kick start economic growth.

Infrastructure building, including waterways, power, transport and communication, needs to be doubled in order to bring back liquidity in the market, amid the crisis due to the outbreak of covid-19 in the country, Gadkari said, addressing senior industry members of FICCI via video conference.

The government had announced a three-week lockdown to contain the chain of spread of coronavirus, beginning March 25, which led to suspension of all economic activity. In an address to the nation earlier during the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the lockdown will be extended till May 3. However, the government is also considering resuming economic activity partially, including opening up certain sectors beginning April 20, to ease the hardships of daily wagers, farmers and small businesses.

The minister said that he has asked officials to make the best use of the lockdown, work overtime and complete pending work such as clearing dues to contractors, granting project approvals, so that construction work can resume in full swing as soon as the lockdown is lifted.

“Clearing contractors dues will create liquidity," Gadkari said.

The minister has also asked National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and its arbitration units to decide matters within three months.

Gadkari also called upon the industry to look upon the present crisis as a challenge and opportunity especially as some countries are looking to move away their investments from China, and India can be one of the best options for them.

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