Research and innovation are not only vital to development and progress but the very future of the country, said Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, while stressing the need for appropriate vision and taking fast-track decisions to realise the goal of making India the number one country in the world.
In his highly inspiring and motivating speech that was peppered with anecdotes, at a function organised as part of KLE Society’s 101st Foundation Day celebrations here on Thursday, he said that it was time to acquire new knowledge and transform that into wealth. India needs to work a lot on research and innovation to bridge gaps.
In sharp contrast to the U.S. and China registering two lakh and 20,000 new patents, India was lagging far behind with only 2,000 patents being registered in a year.
The Union government is working to chalk out a road map for promoting cruise tourism with state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities across the country.
He said that around 100 cruises would join Mumbai port to promote tourism soon.
The ambitious, Sagar Marg, from Mumbai to Goa would become operational in the next six months and the amphibious land-water bus services would commence in Mumbai next month.
Speaking on concrete steps taken to build proper infrastructure to boost economic progress and creation of jobs, he said that the Union government had accorded top priority to waterways, railways and roadways considering the cost of transportation and available opportunities and their prospects. The government had brought 20,000 km of waterways under inland waterways and is working on expanding the area further, including in the Ganga.
In addition to three flagship shipping corporations in the public sector, there were 12 major and 200 minor/private ports along the Indian coastal belt which were performing well.
The three shipping corporations earned a profit of Rs. 6,000 crore last year which was being re-invested in development of waterways. The profit was expected to touch Rs. 7,000 crore during the current year 2016-17.
Mr. Gadkari stressed the need for linking rivers to boost irrigation for agricultural purposes, which would boost India’s agricultural production and generate job opportunities in the rural areas. “Today, 70 per cent of our groundwater is draining waste into the seas and States were fighting among themselves for the remaining 30 per cent of groundwater. We need to arrest running water and efficiently use it.”
The Minister, who is credited with successfully accomplishing the task of constructing the Pune-Mumbai Express Highway at a cost of Rs. 1,580 crore as against an expected Rs. 2,000 crore, said that steps had been taken to expand the national highways network from 95,000 km to 2 lakh km. The pace of construction has been boosted from 2 km to 22 km per day, which would go up to 42 km per day by the end of the current financial year.
His Ministry was handling projects worth Rs. 4.50 lakh crore, all of which were allotted on e-tender basis to ensure transparency and corruption-free governance, he added.
Mr. Gadkari said he will soon meet Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with a request to promote construction of bridges using steel, which would help to a great extent in addressing the issue of bad debts with the public sector banks.
Earlier, Richard H. Dorman of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, was felicitated in recognition of his contribution and services in carrying out research programmes in healthcare and medicine in association with KLE University
Prarthana Thombare, an alumni of KLES Silver Jubilee English Medium School in Barhi in Maharashtra, who represented India at the Rio Olympics 2016 and partnered with Sania Mirza in the doubles category and is now looking forward to a medal in the Olympics 2020 to be held in Tokyo, was also felicitated.
Infosys Foundation chairperson and an alumni of KLES engineering college, Hubballi, Sudha Murty, KLES Chairman Prabhakar Kore, president Shivanand Koujalgi and Directors Mahantesh M. Kavatagimath and S.C. Metgud were present.