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Govt to move towards 6-laning of golden quadrilateral: Montek

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The Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, with the Member-Secretary, Mr Rajeev Ratna Shah, addressing the Economic Editors' Conference in the Capital on Friday. - Ramesh Sharma

New Delhi , Nov. 18

THE Government has decided to move towards six-laning of the golden quadrilateral road network, which connects the four metros of Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said here on Friday.

The golden quadrilateral network runs into a length of 5,846 kilometres and over 5,000 km of it have been four-laned.

Addressing the Economic Editors' Conference here today, Mr Ahluwalia said the Government has also mapped out the phases 4, 5 and 6 for the national highways development programme (NHDP) that would extend over the next seven years. This was besides the NHDP (phase III) involving road construction of about 10,000 km.

Mr Ahluwalia said the Government now had a clear idea of the scale of the road programmes. "We are now clear as to how roads should be built. As far as possible, we must go in for build, operate and transfer projects because that enables us to leverage limited public resources with more private resources," he said.

8% growth `achievable': Asked about the growth target for the economy that the Planning Commission was looking at for the Eleventh Plan (2007-12), Mr Ahluwalia said an 8 per cent growth rate was an achievable and desirable target.

"Formally, we don't have a growth rate target until the full Planning Commission approves the approach paper of the Eleventh Plan. But my view is we should be aiming for 8 per cent," he said.

He also underscored the need to continue with reforms if the economy were to be placed in 8 per cent growth trajectory.

Airport modernisation: On airports, Mr Ahluwalia expressed hope that the concession agreements for the modernisation and restructuring of Mumbai and Delhi airports would be awarded by the end of this year.

On agriculture, he said the Government was putting forward a major effort in increasing public investment in irrigation and also taking new initiatives in watershed management.

As regards the amendments to the Agricultural Product Marketing Committee Act, Mr Ahluwalia said half-a-dozen States have amended the legislation. "Another dozen or so are in the process of amending the APMC Act", he said.

Mr Ahluwalia also assured that the Planning Commission would be extremely serious about zero-based budgeting in the Eleventh Plan and would weed out schemes that were non-performing.

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