Mumbai: Union minister Nitin Gadkari today said the blame for laxity in implementing projects does not lie with politicians, but with the bureaucracy and “our system where a microscopic minority” stalls the work.
“The blame is not with the minister, but the bureaucracy and the system. You (the bureaucracy) do not take decisions,” Gadkari, the Minister for Shipping, Ports and Surface Transport, said at a cruise tourism seminar organised here.
“We (politicians) have only five years to perform, whereas you retire at 58,” Gadkari quipped. The minister said sometimes the impediment is not taxes or infrastructure, but a bureaucratic mindset.
He cited an instance where he, along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, had gone to welcome passengers from the first cruise ship to berth in the city, but a doctor did not let passengers alight as he was insisting on checking details on the vaccinations taken by passengers.
The minister said time over-runs in infra projects have direct impact on costs, which get escalated and cited the example of the Bandra Worli Sealink where, he alleged, interventions by a “microscopic minority” of non-profits resulted in a Rs 1,400-crore hit to the state government.
As a solution to deplorable conditions in which people travel in cramped local trains, Gadkari said he had floated the idea of looking at water transport as an alternative.
Pointing to Maharashtra’s Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick seated on the stage, the minister said, “Today, 22 years have passed, you (Mullick) are studying, doing research and appointing committees, I do not know if our generation will be able to see it or our grandsons will see it.”
He said the local civic body in the suburb of Thane has submitted a Rs 2,000-crore proposal for starting water transport, and his ministry has assured to help with 50 per cent of the cost. Gadkari rued that in the government there is no action and the focus is only on establishing committees and study groups to write reports.
The minister cited a slew of examples where progress is stalled, such as the proposal to build a helipad at South Mumbai’s Nariman Point which can help in the movement of VVIPs and take care of traffic snarls.
There is also a proposal to build a roll-on-roll-off service from south Mumbai’s Bhau-Cha-Dhakka to Revas/Mandva on the Raigad coast to the south which can help cut the travel time to Goa by nearly two hours, he said.
Similarly, the project to have an amphibious bus which runs on both land and water by JNPT is also stuck, Gadkari said, attributing it to initial confusion over the customs duty attracted, and, now a dilemma over the landing point for the bus, which has already been delivered.
“I want the media to write about it and should expose the government and the government system,” the minister said.
Asked if the public criticism of the bureaucracy will be demotivating, Gadkari parried the query.