National / World

India to have 10,000 seaplanes; e-highways on anvil: Gadkari

New Delhi, Dec 31 (PTI): Clear water bodies dotted with 10,000 seaplanes, 'floating cities' in the form of ocean cruises and electric vehicles zipping on dedicated highway lanes -- that's the future as envisioned by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

For the 'go-getter' minister at the helm of affairs to overhaul the country's infrastructure, India has the potential to realise all this and much more.

"I have been talking about seaplanes. If it starts, in India we have the potential of starting 10,000 seaplanes. We have 3 to 4 lakh ponds in India, plenty of dams, 2,000 river ports, 200 small ports and 12 major ports. It will cost less," Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari told PTI.

The minister said he has asked his civil aviation counterpart Ashok Gajapathi Raju to explore a regulatory regime for single-engine seaplanes to facilitate the introduction of such planes in the country as early as possible.

"Seaplanes can land in one-foot water and require an only 300-metre runway. It has a huge potential and runs at a speed of 400 km per hour. Our ministry and the aviation ministry will finalise its rules and regulations soon. There are different rules in America, Canada, Japan. We will study their laws in three months," Gadkari said.

The minister, along with Raju, had participated in a seaplane trial run of budget carrier SpiceJet at the Girgaum Chowpatty off the Mumbai coast on December 9.

SpiceJet plans to buy more than 100 amphibian aircraft at an estimated cost of USD 400 million.

Describing cruises as "floating cities", Gadkari said they have the potential to swell to more than 950 from about 90 at present.

Cruises from India could go to Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand and massive efforts are underway to boost this segment, including a Rs 1,000 crore terminal being built in Mumbai. A policy is also in the works.

Listing priorities for 2018, Gadkari said work will start on much-awaited India's first pod taxi project after a high- level panel recommended inviting fresh bids for the same conforming to the strictest global safety standards.

"Seaplanes, cruises, waterways, electric vehicles, pod taxis, catamarans, expressways" or the mammoth Rs 16 lakh crore Sagarmala and Rs 7 lakh crore Bharatmala initiatives will change the face of India's infrastructure, he claimed.

Another key thrust area would be to reduce crude imports of Rs 7 lakh crore by at least half and provide jobs to at least 50 lakh youth in related industries.

"We are making efforts to overhaul transport. We are importing crude oil worth Rs 7 lakh crore. We have decided to bring cost-effective, import substitute, pollution free and indigenous fuel.

"We will gradually convert our transport to electric, ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel, bio CNG and other such means. At least 1,000 new industries will begin in the country, employing 50 lakh youth," he said.

The minister also said electric buses will be promoted.

"We can reduce ticket rates by 30-35 percent by it. This has supercapacitor technology. A charged bus can run for 36 km and will be charged in 3 minutes.

"We are planning that on Delhi-Mumbai (highway), one lane can be reserved for converting into an electric highway," he said.

As far as batteries are concerned, 11 companies have started manufacturing lithium-ion batteries and the prices have dropped by 50 percent, he said, adding that recently in Gurgaon a green transport fleet of 1,000 electric autorickshaws was launched.

Projecting 20,000 km of highways will be awarded by March 2018, Gadkari said last year it was 16,500 km.

"This year our road building reached 28 km a day from a mere 2 km a day when we took over. Next year it will be 40 km a day. Next year target will be 25,000 km," he said.

To power the ambitious highway growth plans, he said NHAI will soon come up with a bond issue offering attractive coupon rates of above 7 percent. He urged the people to invest in it rather than chit funds or other such schemes.

"We have decided that NHAI will raise funds from the poor... We will try to give 7.5 percent to the common man and 7.75 percent to women, those above 60 years and defence personnel. They will get interest for 10 years. Monthly interest will be submitted in their accounts," he said

Gadkari said his ministry will soon begin work on Rs 7.5 lakh crore highway projects under Bharatmala. The ministry also plans to train about 3.5 lakh workers under the skill development programme for highways.

He also said a certain percentage of the projects above Rs 100 crore will be earmarked for skill development and his ministry alone would create 2 crore jobs.

He said India faces shortages of 22 lakh drivers and one lakh driving training centres are on the anvil in the first phase in collaboration with states. 


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Comment on this article

  • K Seetharama Upadhay, Kundpaura

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    Great plans! I hope all of the plans do work.

    DisAgree [2] Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Luv, Mangalore

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    Nitin Gadkari is the only performing ministry in BJP. At Least he is coming up with some grand plans and looks to be serious on implementing these projects.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • I wish I was there, Bahrain

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    Give something special for Gadkari because everytime he is falling down.
    Like Humty Dumpty.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr.S.Kamath, Mumbai

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    Why discourage one of the best performing Cabinet minister

    DisAgree [6] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • kas, Mangalore

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    Quote ----This year our road building reached 28 km a day from a mere 2 km a day when we took over. Next year it will be 40 km a day. Next year target will be 25,000 km," he said.

    If this is the case , Have we seen any new new roads in the coastal districts in the last 3.5 years .....

    DisAgree [4] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    First give Mangaluru a Genuine International Airport ...

    DisAgree [8] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • jeevan, kudla

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    I am surprised why kokan rail travellers too demand air facilities ???

    DisAgree [4] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Bengaluru/Katapadi

    Sun, Dec 31 2017

    This again may be election stunt because we do not know whether this project is viable and feasible

    DisAgree [9] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

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