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Sound financial backing for Highways and Shipping

India seeks low-interest funding for green projects

Gadkari addressing AIIB delegates in Delhi on 27 Feb 2018.

The Highways and Shipping sectors in India are financially “very sound” and offer tremendous investment opportunities under their respective flagship programmes – Bharatmala and Sagarmala.

Giving this assurance, Road Transport-Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said Rs.535,000 crores are to be spent over Phase-I of Bharatmala over the next 5 years.

Investment for Sagarmala is expected to be around Rs.4 lakh crore, said Gadkari in a keynote address at the Curtain Raiser event of the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in New Delhi on 27 Feb 2018.

Emphasizing that this was the “Golden Time” to invest in the Road and Shipping sectors in India, the Minister re-assured that availability of funds is not problem for these sectors.

The budgetary support, the Rs.125,000 crores, is expected from monetization of highways projects, the high market rating of organizations like National Highway Authority of India and Cochin Shipyard.

Additionally, the growing profit from the major ports, which rose from Rs.3,000 crore three years back to Rs.5,000 crore last year, are enough for the kind of investments planned.

He als disclosed that the Ministry has worked its way through various impediments and stalled projects to bring in innovative financing models like the Hybrid Annuity Model and the Toll–Operate-Transfer mode; land acquisition problems have been removed through better compensation and streamlining of procedures; the process of getting environment and other clearances has become smoother with increased inter-ministerial coordination.

All this has resulted in a heightened pace of activity in these sectors, he stressed.

Gadakari called upon private investors to bid for the upcoming Access Controlled Expressway projects, the 14 Coastal Economic Zones, the five Smart Cities and many other such upcoming projects.

Work has already begun to develop 10 out of the 111 waterways designated as National Waterways while the World Bank funded Jal Marg Vikas project on River Ganga is at an advanced stage of execution.

Development of waterways will provide a more cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, especially for cargo, he added.

In Water Resources sector, India needs nearly Rs.3-5 lakh crore as investment for irrigation and river interlinking projects, he said.

The Minister called upon banks and multilateral institutions to come forward with long term – about 40 years – loans at nominal interest rates for financing these projects.

He said many parts of India are facing acute problems of water which can be solved by diverting water from water surplus basins by interlinking of rivers and by checking the wastage of water that flows out to the seas.

The Polavaram water project is also a priority, he added.

For these, and other such projects, the Government needs low interest loan, said Gadkari, calling on the banks and multilateral institutions to come forward with low-cost financing.

Gadkari also sought low interest funding was for development of green fuel like methanol, ethanol, bio-diesel, bio-CNG etc, for which the country has a huge potential, but not enough funds.

In addition to this, financing would also benefit the development of alternate and innovative modes of transport like metrino, sea planes, hyperloop etc.

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