Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari has called for investors from the US to come forward and invest in roads and highways projects in India which is a gold-mine for investors. Inaugurating virtually the 19th Indo-US Economic Summit of The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce he said The United States of America and India are prominent democracies of the World with strong bilateral relations. He said 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, he added.
Shri Gadkari said our emphasis has been on creating a sustainable business ecosystem with an inclusive growth model. He said we need to encourage out-of-the-box thought process and promote creative agenda to weave new pathways. He said Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has set a vision for India to become a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2025. The Minister emphasized that today, 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. He said our Government is investing 1.4 trillion dollars 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.
Shri Gadkari said 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, we had around 91,000 Kms of National Highway network. At present, this Network 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.
The Minister said we are constructing 27 Greenfield Expressways of 10,000 Kms across the country with an investment of Rs. 5 lakh Crores that is about 60 billion dollars. 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.
Shri Gadkari said Government is 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 Minister said we are bringing innovative and investor friendly products like InvIT to allow retail investors participate in the funding drive. We are designing the products so that retail investors can get good Annual Returns which are more than the Fixed Deposit rates. 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, he added.
Shri Gadkari said today, India is becoming the largest EV market for electric two wheelers, three- wheelers and cars. He said Government is strongly encouraging solar and wind energy based charging mechanism for electric mobility. He said we are also working on development of Electric Highway which will be powered by solar, This will facilitate charging of heavy duty trucks and buses while running. He said US-based companies can collaborate with our research and development efforts towards EV battery technologies and retrofitting industry. The Minister said our National Hydrogen Mission offers incentives for production & transportation of Green Hydrogen. Shri Gadkari called upon the chamber to contribute in the development of low-cost and reliable Electrolysers and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology.