New Delhi: Barely weeks after proclaiming the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to be in the robust financial conditions, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday called up on the investors from the US to come forward and invest in roads and highways projects in India.
Inaugurating virtually the 19th Indo-US Economic Summit of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, Gadkari said it (NH sector) is a gold-mine sector. He said The United States of America and India are prominent democracies of the world with strong bilateral relations.
“We are natural partners and have lot to contribute for mutual growth. Both the countries have always shown mutual trust, respect and co-operation on the social, economic and strategic front. The theme chosen this year—The New Agenda for next 25 years—will set the roadmap for strengthening our relationship,” added the Minister.
Disputing the claim of Congress Member in Rajya Sabha Rajiv Shulka that NHAI did not have solid financial backing, Gadkari had claimed that the rating of NHAI is so high that many financial institutions were eagerly waiting for the nod to invest.
Sustainable business ecosystem
Claiming that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has been insisting on creating a sustainable business ecosystem with an inclusive growth model, Gadkari said India was looking to encourage out-of-the-box thought process and promote creative agenda to weave new pathways.
Officials said that Gadkari’s bid to reach out to the US-based investors was in sync with PM Narendra Modi’s vision for making India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2025. “India is one of the fastest growing economies and stands at fifth position in the world. A well-developed infrastructure enhances economic activity, creates new businesses and promotes job creation,” the Minister underlined.
Govt of India investing $1.4 trillion in infra sector
He said our Government is investing $1.4 trillion in infrastructure development through National Infrastructure Pipeline. The road sector will account for 19% of this capital expenditure over period of 2019 to 2025. He said the Government has launched the Prime Minister National Gati Shakti Master Plan for holistic and integrated infrastructure development in the country. With Gati-Shakti all stakeholders will follow the rule of 3 C’s: Co-operation, Coordination & Communication.
The road infrastructure plays a critical role in the growth of the Indian economy as 70% of goods and nearly 90% of passenger traffic uses the road network to commute. In 2014, India had around 91,000 Kms of NH network. At present, it has reached around 1.47 Lakh Kms. The Government is dedicatedly working towards expanding National Highway network to 2 lakh kilometers by 2025, he added.
27 Greenfield Expressway are being built
The Minister said MoRTH is constructing 27 Greenfield Expressways of 10,000 Kms across the country with an investment of ₹5 lakh Crores that is about $60 billion. He said these corridors result in 14% reduction in travel distance between the key economic centers and this would further ensure reduction in transportation cost by 2.5%. In addition, there would be saving of around 110 crore liters of fuel and reduction of carbon dioxide emission by 250 crore kg every year, he said.
The Government is also formulating a new policy called ‘Tree Bank’ for Tree Cutting & Tree Transplantation. As per policy, authorities such as NHAI, NHIDCL, Airport and Port Authority have to maintain a Tree Bank account having record of planting and felling of trees during project development. The MoRTH has also been striving to bring in innovative and investor friendly products like InvIT to allow retail investors participate in the funding drive. New products are being designing so that retail investors can get good annual returns, which are more than the fixed deposit rates.
Framework for PPP in highway in place
He said the chamber should take a lead and identify areas where our talented human resources can contribute to design best financial instruments to enable investments in Indian infra space. “We have well-developed framework for Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) in the highway sector. Asian Development Bank has ranked India at the first spot in PPP operational maturity and also designated India as a developed market for PPPs. All project documentation, contractual decisions and approvals are now being done through the digital portal,” the Minister added.
India has huge market for EV, renewables
India is becoming the largest EV market for electric two wheelers, three- wheelers and cars. The Government is strongly encouraging solar and wind energy based charging mechanism for electric mobility. The MoRTH is also working on development of Electric Highway, which will be powered by solar, to facilitate charging of heavy duty trucks and buses while running. The Minister said US-based companies can collaborate with our research and development efforts towards EV battery technologies and retrofitting industry. The National Hydrogen Mission also offers incentives for production & transportation of green hydrogen.