“We are building 20 kms/day of new roads.” This is an often heard statement made by everyone from Nitin Gadkari to every Tom, Dick and Bhagwat of the BJP.
Why, just yesterday, on a debate on Mirror Now, in which Rifat Jawaid was a part of, the BJP spokesperson, Vishwas Pathak threw the same number in the face of Faye D’Souza and challenged her to disprove it. Pathak was, of course, trying to justify the central government’s decision to impose more than 110% tax on every litre of petrol and 88% tax on one litre of diesel.
Challenge Accepted, Mr. Pathak. Now start saving your own face or coming up with a perfectly good explanation for peddling lies on national TV in an official capacity. This time I am not going to give you the chance to shout “Modi, Modi.” We will get straight down to the numbers.
The Central government is in-charge of the NHAI (National Highways Authority of India). The NHAI led by Nitin Gadkari, who is the union minister for road transport and highways.
According to the report submitted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Research Wing, as on 31 March 2014, India had a total of 91,287 kms of national highways.
This can be verified from the government data available here.
The Narendra Modi government has recently completed three years in governance (give or take a few months for their honeymoon). They’ve been religiously chanting this 20 km/day jargon from day one.
So if this is true, then in the last three years, the NHAI and the NHIDCL (National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation) should have built a total of 21,900 kms of new roads.
Here, I am assuming that when the BJP says, “We are building 20 km/day of new roads everyday”, they mean NEW ROADS and not repairing the old roads, as that is plain stupid to consider an old road being repaired as the new road.
As per the latest information available on the government website, the current length of national highways under the NHAI stands at 10,0087 kms.
Let’s now play some counting games!
20 kms/day in three years. Any idea how much would this add up to?
20 X 3 X 365 = 21,900 kms (What BJP claims they have built since forming the government at the Centre in May 2014.)
For those pretending to be intelligent BJP supporters, who would say, “but how can you count Sunday, when it’s holiday?’ Even after excluding Sundays, the figure still comes to 18,780 kms. But since this BJP government is ‘known’ to work 24 X 7 every week under a hard-working prime minister, I am going with the previous figure.
10,0087 (current length of national highways under the NHAI) – 91,287 (length of national highways as on 31 March 2014) = 8,800 kms. This is what the Modi government’s own data claims what they have built in little over 3 years in office.
So, in effect we have 21,900 – 8,800 = 13,100 kms of national highways missing to justify the BJP spokies’ claims on TV channels.
So where have these 13,100 kms of national highways been built? In Nitin Gadkari’s backyard or in Nagpur inside the RSS headquarter?
Please don’t tell me that Gadkari is building toy lego model highways in his playroom as he frolics with his Nagpur buddies and has fun tagging them as national highways.
Now, I have a humble request to all the readers. We have 13,100 kms of national highways gone missing. We have to find them. So, let’s go and start looking around you and if you spot a new national highway around somewhere, immediately report it to the NHAI.
To dear national highway, please come home, mummy and papa are missing you. All your mistakes will be forgiven. Just come back home.
Disclaimer: I have heard of people building castles in thin air, but building national highways in thin air surely takes the cake.