NEW DELHI: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari Friday said tribals were being encouraged to accumulate non-edibile seeds for producing biofuel as the government looks to reduce dependence on crude oil imports.
As India incurred a huge Rs 8 lakh crore bill on crude imports, tribals are being urged to accumulate non-edibile seeds like 'ratanjot, saal and mohan' for biofuel production, Road Transport, Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, Ganga Rejuvenation and River Development Minister Gadkari said.
He said if biofuel could also cut on India's huge aviation fuel imports, and if "we could save Rs 30,000 crore spent now" through innovation and technology, it would be a great contribution to country's economic health.
On highways the minister said, greenfield Delhi-Mumbai Express Highway would result in savings to the tune of Rs 16,000 crore on land acquisition as it only cost Rs 80 lakh per hectare on land acquisition on the new alignment as against Rs 7 per hectare on the existing alignment.
He said the project was likely to be completed in two and half years and would reduce the distance from Delhi to Mumbai by 120 km.
The minister also stressed the need for promoting waterways as a mode of transportation urging investors to come up with offers for plying catamarans and seaplanes.
Inaugurating the 5th National Forum of "Public Affairs: The New Paradigm", through video conferencing, the minister said rural and agriculture sectors have been neglected in the past resulting in the population in rural areas shrinking to 54.25 per cent at present as compared to about 85 per cent during the independence.
"This shows migration. We have to find out what is the reason for this. The agriculture and rural economy is very important and that is the reason that our government is giving highest priority for development of rural sector," he said mentioning the schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna and Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna.
He said the government was also focusing to uplift rural economy through irrigation facilities and instead of canals, pipelines were being promoted now.
Pointing out at the paradox India faces with some parts facing floods and some even drinking water scarcity, the minister said steps were being taken to manage this and also emphasised that drip irrigation and sprinklers were better methods to enhance productivity.
Gadkari said bolstering the rural economy and agriculture is one of the topmost agenda of Narendra Modi Government and required innovation and technological intervention.
Being surplus in foodgrains, India needs to boost its exports and curb imports, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
"We are sugar surplus, wheat surplus, rice surplus, pulses surplus. We have to find out a new innovative methodology by which we can increase our exports and curb imports. Imports are a big problem," he said.
He also appealed Public Affairs Forum of India to work in this direction through encouraging innovation.