NAGPUR: It could be more than just coincidence that several issues close to city MP and Union transport, MSME minister Nitin Gadkari’s heart got prominent mention in budget proposals presented by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday.
Be it big push for electric vehicles, the proposal to use bamboo for supplementing farm incomes, inundating highways and infrastructure sector with funds, mention of Vidarbhaite Padma Shri Subhash Palekar’s Zero Budget Farming, boost to waterways transport, and also proposed fillip to irrigation projects now under Jal Shakti ministry, all have definite Gadkari imprint.
Always eager to accept and implement out-of-the-box ideas, Gadkari has been for years working for promoting alternative fuels like ethanol, solar power and biomass briquettes. He has been pushing electric vehicles and turned his home turf Nagpur as testing field first for e-rickshaws and then electric cars as cabs run by a private operator.
The ethanol-run green buses were tried in the city though it could not sustain because of operational problems. In the annual agriculture exposition that he organises and which is a big draw in Nagpur, he has showcased several such technologies and motivated farmers to use solar water pumps and bio-diesel tractors etc.
In Modi2.0, Gadkari has been divested of waterways and ports portfolio. But the budget proposals presented on Friday made it clear the revolutionary work done by Gadkari in using Ganges waters for waterways to reduce stress on roads will continue. In Novemeber, the first such cargo terminal for waterway connecting Haldia to Varanasi was inaugurated by prime minister Modi.Gadkari has been working for last five years in making bamboo integral part of agriculture. With his help, the government freed bamboo from shackles of forest department by allowing its cultivation and transport without permits. Now it can be planted in private farms. He demonstrated that bamboo can be used to make textiles and briquettes made from bamboo can be used as industrial fuel.