“Toll collection cannot be done away with, ever. Government does not have money. If you want good services, you have to pay for it,” Union Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari told the Lok Sabha Tuesday in a discussion on the demand for grants for 2019-20.
Gadkari said it is a fair model that the limited budget of the government is used to develop roads in hilly and backward regions, where people cannot afford to pay toll.
“This is a practical approach. Charge those who can pay, let the government spend on rural roads. If I invest `15,000 crore on the Delhi ring road, how will I get the money for rural, north-eastern region? There is no viability in these areas,” Gadkari said.
“Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allotted us Rs 83,000 crore (in the 2019-20 budget). But we are constructing projects worth Rs 8 lakh crore. We want to reduce the travel time on road. Where do we get land acquisition costs for these huge projects that we have envisaged?” Gadkari asked.
Meanwhile Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the government has no plans to ban petrol and diesel vehicles in the near future but will continue to push for greater use of electric vehicles with a view to cut oil imports and save the environment.
“EV is a priority but the incremental requirement of fuel will have to be met through a combination of BS-VI grade petrol and diesel, CNG and biofuels alongside EV,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event here.
The Niti Aayog has reportedly proposed that after 2030, only electric vehicles should be sold in India. India consumed 211.6 million tonne of petroleum products in 2018-19. Of this, diesel consumption was 83.5 million tonne and petrol 28.3 million tonne.