A city like Davos in India would give a big boost to tourism, development, jobs and overall economy.
As over 3,000 leaders from across the world huddle for their annual talkfest in this snow-capped Swiss ski resort town in sub-zero temperatures, senior Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has got a full city to take back home literally -- he wants to create India's own Davos in hilly terrains of Himalayas.
Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Ports and Shipping, said it is very much possible to create a new city like Davos back in India where hotels, shops and conference centres would be set up, while taking care of the environment and other issues, and which can host events like World Economic Forum while giving a big boost to tourism, jobs and overall economy.
"After I came here, a thought has come to my mind. I'm yet to start any work on it. We are working on a 1,000-km new roads for Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri of Rs 12,000 crore (Rs 120 billion) which would be all-season roads. That will be a historical thing with tunnels etc.
"Along with that, there is Pittoragarh where we are building a road for Mansarovar and we are taking Australian machines through MIG-17 and some work is already done, about 50 per cent. That place has got temperature of about minus 5-6 degrees.
"After coming to Davos, I felt why can't we develop a township like this in that area, where people will come in sub-zero temperatures and which will have hotels and tourism facilities and will even go to Mansarovar," Gadkari told PTI in an interview at Make in India lounge on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.
The minister, known for his out-of-the box innovative ideas, said it is very much possible to create a Davos-like city there in India, which is rich in all kinds of assets.
"We are capable of creating Taj Mahal even in a desert. It needs a vision, fast track decision making process, transparency and corruption free system. Another important thing is the commitment to the society and the country, and my country also needs something like this," he said.
Giving an example, Gadkari said he was travelling from San Francisco through Pacific Ocean and an idea struck him to build a new road for Mumbai to Goa which will run alongside the sea and the work has begun on that idea.
"Similarly, we will work on Yamuna riverfront by building a wall for a highway from Delhi to Yamunanagar. A study is on for this project which will make travel easier from Delhi to Uttarakhand and Himachal, bringing down the traffic on existing roads," he said.
Gadkari, who is attending several sessions at WEF and is also holding bilateral meetings with corporate and other leaders from across the world here, said he has got an idea after coming here and it is very much possible to create a beautiful city in India itself in sub-zero degree temperatures.
Observing that at times an extreme position is taken on environment like issues, he said it is necessary to protect environment but development is also necessary, so appropriate measures can be taken to ensure that there is no ecological disturbances.
“We need an integrated approach, since an eccentric approach on either side is not good for the country. For a developing country like India, the development should be done by taking care of both sides," he said.
There can be opposition even for a small construction in Himalayas and therefore an integrated approach would be required by the environment ministry, environmentalists, tourism ministry, road ministry and all concerned stakeholders, he added.
"There are so many hotels that have been built here in Davos. They may also have cut trees somewhere. What can be done is that for every tree you have to plant ten new ones.
Then, what we will do is we will not cut the trees, but will move them to a new place and will ensure that ten new trees are planted for every single one," he said.
"We are a rich country with a poor population. We can become top most tourist attraction in the world," he said, while adding that there is huge scope for Andaman Nicobar and islands.
Gadkari said he has already begun work on running sea planes in the country, while new buses are being brought in that will run on water as well.
"We need to think out of box and innovate. We can solve many of our problems with new technologies and help change the country. What is required is the appropriate vision, commitment and a leadership that has willingness to do it.
"I am learning after coming here and seeing new ideas. I am studying the successful practices here and I want to know what all can be done back in India," he said, while complementing Professor Klaus Schwab for making Davos and WEF such a big thing on the world map single-handedly.
"A city like Davos in India would give a big boost to tourism, development, jobs and overall economy, while the number of people travelling to holy places in that region will also increase manifold and also increase the faith in our own culture.”
Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters