Gadkari Invites Foreign Pension Funds to Pump in Finance in Highway Infrastructure
NEW DELHI: The Modi government’s ambitious target to build 30 km of highways per day got a big push with the Union Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari inviting foreign pension funds to participate in the infrastructure sector in the country. While addressing the national conference of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on “Building India: A Shared Responsibility”, he said “We are looking at bringing in foreign pension funds to pump in finance in India’s infrastructure sector.”
The Finance Minister in his Budget increased the allocation for the road sector by around 33% over last year’s budgetary estimate. Jaitley proposed an investment of Rs 45,751 crore for highway development in 2015-16 - up from Rs 34,345 crore in 2014-15.
Highways ministry officials said this is probably one of the biggest boosts to the sector since 1998 when the then NDA government launched the National Highways Development Project. Gadkari said that the government is expecting financing from these global pension and insurance funds at a lower interest rate. He had earlier said Rs 10 trillion investments are expected in the highways and shipping sectors by 2019.
Development of highways had hit a snail’s pace in the last few years following a slowdown in the economy. Currently, projects worth Rs 12,000 crore are languishing for either want of funds or failure to get various clearances.
On the road building target, Gadkari said, “We are doing 12 km per day, which will be scaled up to 30 km per day after two years.”
Gadkari said, “The Inland Waterways Bill to convert 101 rivers across the country into transport channels will be introduced in Parliament on April 20.” He added that the government is contemplating setting up five more major ports in the country, two of which have already been announced in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, to be built at an estimated investment of Rs 16,000 crore.
On the issue of land acquisition, Gadkari said: “This Land Acquisition Bill is not anti-farmers. It will create job op portunities in rural areas.”