Highways minister Nitin Gadkari expressed his helplessness in putting projects pending due to environmental regulations and judicial stay on track in time, but asserted that the number of such projects has declined since the NDA government took over.
Responding to concerns expressed by some members in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour, he urged all political parties adopt an "integrated approach" and said they should "formulate a resolution" vis-a-vis the 1980 Forest Act.
"Sometimes I am also helpless. Sometimes I am embarrassed that I cannot give a resolution," he said as Joice George, an independent member from Kerala, Gopal Shetty (BJP) and Kantilal Bhuria (Cong) among others spoke about highway projects related to their states.
Gadkari added that projects costing Rs 25,000-30,000 crore were stuck now, compared to over Rs 3.8 lakh crore when the BJP-led government took over in 2014.
He said pending projects were a major reason for accidents and added that over 5 lakh accidents take place and 1.56 lakh people die due to this. "The situation is very challenging and problematic. We need environment, ecology and development," he said, adding that the government had set up a committee under him to look into the issue.
Gadkari said a total of 18 projects, including 11 from NHAI, are delayed now, while as many as 120 NHAI projects alone were pending earlier. Besides, 11 NHAI projects, including three in Telangana and one each in Assam, Bihar and Sikkim and one from the Border Road Organisation are delayed now.
To speed up these projects, he said the NHAI had held a meeting with wildlife organisations on January 19 to sort out the issue and such meetings will be held once every quarter.