Govt may offer road projects worth Rs 1L cr to foreign funds

Road Ministry plans selling highway projects worth Rs 5 lakh cr to foreign pension and insurance funds to attract investments into the sector

New Delhi :  With an aim to give a major push to improve road connectivity across the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the government has plans to sell highways projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore to foreign pension and insurance funds to attract overseas investments into the sector.

“We are trying to attract foreign investors. We have projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore. They are interested in buying out projects. We have gone to the Cabinet for these projects which we can sell to foreign pension and insurance funds,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said at Mindmine Summit. The Minister said that next month he will be visiting Japan and would urge the pension funds there to invest in infrastructure in India.

“We will ensure that land acquisition and all clearances are there for projects,” he added. He said the government plans to bring investments worth Rs 5 lakh crore in road sector in five years and has already signed contracts for projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore in the first year.

“The biggest question before the government is to push growth engine,” he said, adding that when the NDA government took over, projects worth Rs 3.80 lakh crore were stuck for want of land, environment and forest clearances and railway over-bridges approval.

He said the Road Ministry has gone to the Cabinet with regard to 26 projects which have technical problems. “Twenty-six projects have technical problems, we wanted to sell equity and have gone to the Cabinet. The problems will be solved by next month,” he said.

“We terminated 44 projects worth Rs 1.05 lakh crore through golden shake-hands and have re-tendered the same. The government’s constant efforts have resulted in forest and environment clearances to 80 stuck projects while Railways have given online approval to 85 over-bridges,” he said.

The process for land acquisition has been expedited as well as the land acquisition cost which stood at Rs 70,000 crore has risen to Rs 1,80,000 crore now. About PPP projects, he said given not so encouraging response for it, the government has bid out 17 road projects on hybrid mode in which 40 per cent of the road project cost would be provided by the government and 60 per cent by concessionaires.

He further said that work on Rs 6,000-crore Delhi Bypass project, for which 133 bidders had given tenders, will start in 15 days. Gadkari said that in order to bring down the construction cost of highways, the government has appointed a committee for recognising higher technology and changing the code of cement specifications, which will reduce the construction prices by about 10 per cent. The committee will submit its report soon, he added.

“Ninety-five lakh tonnes of cement supply has been assured by cement manufactures at a cost of Rs 120 to Rs 140 a bag as against a much higher market price,” he said.

Gadkari said his Ministry is committed to ensure at least two per cent growth in GDP through infrastructure sector. He said by May 2016, the Ministry will achieve a target of building 30 kms of roads a day as against present 12 kms a day.

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