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Cabinet reshuffle: Portfolio allocation shows infrastructure in focus

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-09-2017 Jyotika Sood

New Delhi: With less than two years remaining for the completion of the Narendra Modi government’s tenure, the reshuffle on Sunday highlighted the priorities of his administration, particularly the need to deliver results in the infrastructure sector.

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Piyush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari, who have won praise for their performance in the roads and power sectors, were on Sunday tasked with more responsibilities in reinforcing infrastructure.

Goyal has been given charge of the railway ministry to take forward reforms initiated by Suresh Prabhu towards corporatization of railways, monetization of the transporter’s assets and boosting non-fare revenue to deliver tangible outcomes, analysts said.

Goyal will bring to the ministry his experience at the power ministry, where he has been trying to inculcate fiscal discipline in utilities, ensure sufficient coal availability and drive growth in the clean energy market.

Goyal is expected to continue the reforms initiated by Prabhu in railways and bring new ideas to the table, said Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner and head, economics, regulatory and policy advisory, KPMG in India.

Gadkari, who has increased the pace of national highway construction from 12km a day to 26km per day and made the country’s major ports profitable, has been given additional charge of the ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.

Gadkari, who is minister for road transport, highways and shipping, is expected to focus more on the development of inland waterways or national waterways.

India has five inland waterways and Gadkari is planning to develop 106 more.

“Waterways will prove to be a game changer as this would reduce the cost of transportation for goods and passengers, reduce road congestion as well as play a vital role in reducing pollution. This will also give a boost to tourism,” Gadkari said.

An infrastructure expert said on condition of anonymity that Gadkari had received charge of the river development ministry to smooth the way towards development of national waterways and the ambitious plan of inter-linking rivers.

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