Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari on October 26 launched a scathing attack on National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials over the delay in completion of the organisation’s own headquarter building for nine years.
Mincing no words, Gadkari castigated senior NHAI officials for taking nine years to complete a Rs 250-crore project and said it was time to show the door to ‘non-performing assets’.
Gadkari made the remarks during the virtual inauguration of the building in New Delhi. The union minister said that the building was conceptualised in 2008 and a tender for the same was awarded in 2011. He noted that NHAI saw seven chairmen and two governments during the duration.
“Finally, it could be completed during the tenure of the eighth Chairman. A research paper should be prepared on this classic case of delay with photographs of CGMs and GMs who were behind the delays. There should be a ceremony to make their names and photos public like the ministry does to facilitate those who do exceptionally good work,” Gadkari said.
Questioning officials, Gadkari asked how the NHAI took almost a decade to complete a single building when the Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is planned to be executed in two years. “I feel ashamed. I had personally conducted three-four meetings for it. I have been insisting on reforms... Now as the tradition is, records will be prepared to blame the contractors alone for approaching the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal),” Gadkari said.
Gadkari said new chairmen and members fall under the influence of certain people in the organisation who are “negative” and like “vishkanya (literally translating to 'poison girl')”. “This building’s delay is an example of how your (NHAI’s) tradition of CGM and CM is nikkami (useless) and nalayak (unworthy),” Gadkari said.The union minister said he had previously spoken about reforming the NHAI and that he would personally oversee suspension, termination and removal of the officials who were found guilty. “I know the power of a minister,” Gadkari warned.