Mumbai: Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said all new road projects of the Centre will use concrete.
"All the new roads which we will be constructing will be of concrete," Gadkari told reporters here.
Against the prevalent rate of Rs 350 per bag of cement, Gadkari said the Ministry had found a supplier near Mumbai ready to deliver at Rs 120 per bag, excluding taxes and transport, and advised the Maharashtra government and local bodies to avail of it.
The target of increasing the speed of highway construction to 30 km a day will be achieved within 18 months against the 24 months estimated earlier as work on 95 per cent of 190-odd road projects, stuck in the past, has started, he added.
Gadkari also advocated the use of technologies such as the one where a by-product of oil is used for road laying and added that the Centre had recently issued a notification to this effect.
Besides, the Minister said the Mumbai-Goa National Highway (NH-17) will be converted into a four-lane concrete road soon.
About the work on NH-17, Gadkari said the government had started work of 15 bridges with priority but there were problems related to land acquisition, for which he had sought the Maharashtra government's help.
In future, no work will be started unless 80 per cent of the land acquisition is over, he added.
Asked about the Karnala Bird Sanctuary stretch in Raigad district along the NH-17, Gadkari said an NGO had moved the court seeking a stay on the work citing environmental degradation but a solution would be found.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has cleared 71 projects in Maharashtra since assuming office, Gadkari said.
Improving road safety is a priority and the Ministry has set a target of reducing the number of fatalities by half from the current 1.50 lakh per year, he added.
Road safety will be improved through various measures, including automation, to do away with RTOs as a computerised application process will take care of licensing, testing and record-keeping, he said.
A recent inspection found that 30 per cent of driving licenses are bogus, he added.
The Centre is also contemplating allowing pipelines of utilities, carrying optic fibre cables, gas and electricity transmission lines along the highways which would fetch a revenue of up to Rs 8,000 crore a year, he said.
Work is also on to create 2,000 road-side amenity parks consisting of garden, eateries, handicraft outlets and helipads to assist in medical emergencies, he said, adding that for drivers, 200 hubs will be created which will have a motel-like facility of resting.
Meanwhile, speaking on the country's economic growth, Gadkari said, "Our GDP growth was at 8.5 per cent when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power, but under UPA's rule, it slipped down to 4.25 per cent. I sought information on growth and have been told that the GDP has touched 5.85 per cent."
When asked for a clarification, Gadkari said, "GDP growth figures are released for every three months and I have been informed that the number has reached 5.85 per cent, this is the latest figure."