NEW DELHI :
The toll system cannot be ended and the people will have to pay if they want good services as the government does not have enough funds, Union Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
"The toll system can never end, though rates may vary from time to time. Toll is my brainchild. If you want good services, you have to pay for it. The government does not have money," said Gadkari while replying to the debate in the Lower House on demands of grants for the ministry for 2019-20.
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday approved the demands of grants for the Road, Transport and Highways Ministry for 2019-20. The House passed the demands for grants by a voice vote.
The minister said that those who can pay toll tax should pay it and the money is utilised for building roads in rural and hilly areas.
Gadkari, who spoke for nearly one-and-a-half hours, said that over 1.5 lakh people lose their lives every year in road accidents, noting that the number was far higher than the people killed in terror attacks.
He said that Bharat Stage-VI pollution norms will be introduced by April 2020, while electric and bio-fuel run vehicles will soon be on roads. The minister said that the promotion of ethanol as fuel will help farmers.
Noting that it is easiest in the world to obtain a driving license in India as there is not enough scrutiny, Gadkari said that he will help the MPs in establishing driving training centres in their respective constituencies.
"We have a shortage of 25 lakh drivers. New driving centres should be started, especially in economically backward regions," he added.
Gadkari informed the House that the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill will ensure that licences are not duplicated and the culprits are tracked.
He said that India has become a manufacturing hub for the automobile sector and will become the first in the world in electric automobile manufacturing in the next five years.
Gadkari said he had fulfilled all his promises and if any promise has not been fulfilled, members can approach him.
He informed the House that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sanctioned ₹7,000 crore to take up safety measures on highways in the country.
Gadkari said roads were national assets and he had told his officials that they will be held accountable for any alignment related mistakes as these are also cause of accidents.
He informed the House that 786 "black spots" have been identified which are prone to accidents and 300 of these had been rectified.
The minister said that the toll collection process will be put on a fast track to prevent ing long queue in the toll plazas.
Listing works being taken out by his ministry to improve road transport, the Minister said 65,000 kilometres highways have been developed under Bharat Mala Project.
Gadkari said his ministry will continue giving a thrust to building world-class transport infrastructure in the country.
He said work worth about ₹11 lakh crore had awarded by the ministry in the past five years.
Of over 57,000 km of national highway projects awarded, over 40,000 had been constructed which is an "exponential rise" over the figures for the previous five years.
He said that the budget allocation for his ministry has increased by about ₹5000 crore and several innovative investment models are being worked out to attract funds for the sector.
"This would include a model for attracting investment from the savings of the common man, giving them assured returns," he said.
The minister said that though the cost for Bharatmala has gone up from ₹5,35,000 crore to about ₹8,41000 crore due to increase in the cost of land acquisition, there will be no shortage of funds for the projects.
He urged the members to support the Motor Vehicles ( Amendment ) Bill 2019 in which has stringent provisions for violation of traffic rules.