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Govt intends to slash crude imports by going electric on auto front

Shipping and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said by introducing electric vehicles in the country both cars and buses the government proposes to slash crude imports which currently stood at Rs seven lakh crores. He however did not give any deadline when the country proposes to achieve reduction in crude imports or the quantum of reduction. The Minister was talking to a news agency last week

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.

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. The transportation cost will be less Shipping and Transport Miniser Gadkari said.

The Civil aviation ministry has been asked to explore a regulatory regime for single-engine seaplanes to facilitate introduction of such planes in the country as early as possible.

Seaplanes can land in one foot water and require 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.

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

Describing cruises as “floating cities”, Gadkari said they have the potential to swell to more than 950 calls to Indian ports as against 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. Initially Mumbai, Mormugoa, Cochin and Chennai ports have been identified for cruise tourism.

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. Electric buses will be promoted.

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

Contracts for laying 20,000 kms of highways will be awarded by March 2018, Gadkari said last year it was 16,500 kms. 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 per cent. 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 per cent to the common man and 7.75 per cent to women, those above 60 years and defence personnel. They will get interest for 10 years.

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.

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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