Turning ‘crisis into opportunity’, India needs renewed focus on infrastructure in the wake of the damage caused by COVID-19 and talks are on with state governments to re-start highway construction projects where migrant labourers can be gainfully employed, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. (Traffic Police: A Friend or An Enemy)
In a video-conference with , the road transport, highways and MSME minister said talks are on with state governments for facilitating safe return of migrant labourers, an estimated 20 lakh of whom are in shelters pan-India.
“I had a meeting with road sector officials. Work can be re-started at projects with condition that adequate measures are taken for safeguard against coronavirus. We have to follow guidelines. At some places collectors have given permission, some not. We are doing a follow up along with the chief secretaries of the states,” the minister said.
He said an estimated about 20 lakh migrant labourers are stuck in shelters or have gone back to villages and in view of the Disaster Management Act being in place, district collectors can take a decision on it. (Coronavirus lockdown v/s Car maintenance)
“As I have said and believe, we can turn any problem into opportunity, we need to focus on highways building with renewed vigour…Highways sector has faced much obstacles due to coronavirus. In coming years we will have to give the highest priority to the infrastructure sector. To accelerate the economy, infrastructure is needed,” Gadkari said.
He said plans are afoot to boost the highways sector. A committee has already been set up, he said, adding that work needs to be commenced on a war footing on highway projects, including the Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai new expressway which would usher in development of backward and far-flung areas of Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
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