NEW DELHI: Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday dismissed the opposition’s charge that the cut in excise duty on fuel had anything to do with the recent bypoll results, even as he exuded confidence that greater savings and concern for the environment will drive more people to switch to electric vehicles and other alternative fuels in the next two years.
Speaking at the Times Now Summit, Gadkari said, “The reduction in excise duty has brought immediate relief and this was required. Linking this to the election is wrong. We did this after the bypoll results and not before the polls. We have one election or other every month. If we link all government decisions to elections, then we can’t do anything.”
Gadkari said the government is taking multiple initiatives to reduce crude imports, which amounts to nearly Rs 8 lakh crore annually. He said initiatives such as higher ethanol blending in petrol, the introduction of flex engines, green hydrogen, bio-CNG and penetration of electric vehicles will substantially reduce India’s crude oil consumption in near future and will also reduce air pollution.
“If your fuel bill is reduced from Rs 12,000-Rs 15,000 per month to Rs 2,000 per month for shifting to electric vehicles, won’t you go for that?” he asked. Gadkari also said the vehicle fuel scenario will change in the next three years and said after 2-3 years, there will be a “new India and a pollution-free nation”.
On the pace of highway construction, he said the road infrastructure in India will be at par with European countries and America in the next two-three years as multiple highway projects are being constructed in the country.
The minister said the government has started work on the construction of 23 greenfield expressways, including the Mumbai-Delhi expressway. He said the 1,350-km-long Mumbai-Delhi express highway will be the world’s longest highway and will reduce travel time between the two cities to 13 hours.

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