General VK Singh is the first retired army chief in the country to enter politics. He had also won his first Lok Sabha election by a wide margin. In his second term, the Deputy and Minister of State of the Union of Road Transport and Civil Aviation, General VK Singh spoke with Sharad Gupta, Senior Editor (Business and Politics), Lokmat Media Group, on various related topics. with the transport sector. Here are the highlights …
– Does your military training help you govern?
The military teaches you discipline and performance. Although both the armed forces and politics are completely different from each other, delivery has one thing in common in both. In government we have to deal with all sorts of people, from bureaucrats and elected representatives to the common man, so we can’t expect any kind of army discipline on that. But yes, since Modiji became prime minister, there has been a great improvement in both discipline and government performance.
– What is the current road construction rate per day for your ministry?
It is about 32 km per day and we want to take it to 40 km per day at the end of the year. Imagine that during the UPA regime we were only building 2 km of road a day.
– Is there enough money to build the road so fast?
This is not a problem. The government has already increased our ministry’s budget to $ 1.90 billion. In addition, we are building our roads on an annual budget for various BOT, BOD, Highway models. Now, instead of getting money from foreign investors, we have decided to raise money from the common Indians through a guaranteed 7% return to build the road. Bank interest rates have fallen by 5-6 percent. Our offer will certainly attract many investors. We are just waiting for the SEBI settlement.
, High toll rates are a problem. While the cost of an electric vehicle is less than Re 1 per kilometer, the toll rate is up to Rs 2?
Toll rates are set according to the cost of construction. Highways not only make travel easier, they are also cheaper. It will only take 12 hours for a car and 22 hours for a truck on the Delhi-Mumbai highway. It takes a truck 48 hours and a car 28 hours to complete this journey. Of course, there will also be fuel cost savings.
, Why build a green field highway on fertile ground?
Look, every time a road is built, the rates of the land around it skyrocket and the infrastructure improves. Of course, farmers also benefit from this. We give between 50 and 60 billion rupees every year to farmers for land acquisition. they have been paying.
, Wouldn’t it be a cheaper option to strengthen railroads or waterways?
You’re right, waterways are much cheaper than roads. If a road trip costs you Rs 10. per kilometer, then the cost of the train is Rs.6. And the cost of the waterway is only Rs.1. per kilometer. But after independence we never took the waterways seriously. Currently, 70 percent of freight transportation and 90 percent of passenger transportation is done by road. Everyone buys a car. We need many more better roads.
, $ 4 million in the cost of highway construction. 100 million Why is there a difference per km?
Not so. The cost depends on many factors such as bridges, overpasses, tunnels, and so on. Normally 2 million rupees on a two-lane road. cost per km, but a three-lane road that requires bridges and land acquisition costs between 15 and 16 million rupees per km. can go up to
, But the cost of the Delhi-Meerut highway is 100 rupees. per kilometer?
Its cost is very high as part of its 18-lane structure is the widest road in the world that cost us 3000 million. It’s happening. It has many bridges, highways, etc. It was necessary to acquire a part of urban and commercial land for which we had to pay a lot.
, Isn’t the government’s push on electric vehicles (EVs) a bit premature given its high cost?
They are getting cheaper. Over the next two years, an electric car will cost as much as a gasoline car. The same goes for two-wheeled vehicles or coaches. We are manufacturing 85% lithium ion batteries in India itself. We are now experimenting with sodium ions, zinc ions and aluminum ions as battery fuel. We expect the cost of the electric vehicle to go down even further.
, But isn’t the demand for electric vehicles too high and manufacturing too low?
Yes, right now there is a big gap between demand and supply. There is a 3-4 month waiting list. But as production increases, the waiting list will end.
, When do you think gasoline and diesel vehicles are obsolete?
I can’t say the date, but I can assure you that sooner or later it will happen.