The Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that the Highways and Shipping sectors in India today are financially very sound and offer tremendous investment opportunities under their respective flagship programmes - Bharatmala and Sagarmala, as also other ongoing programmes. He said, while Rs 5,35,000 crores are to be spent over Phase-I of Bharatmala over the next 5 years, the investment for Sagarmala is expected to be around 4 lakh Crore. Shri Gadkari was delivering the keynote address at the Curtain Raiser event of the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in New Delhi today.Emphasizing that this was the “Golden Time” to invest in the Road and Shipping sectors in India, the Minister said that availability of funds is not problem for these sectors. The budgetary support , the Rs 125000 crores expected from monetization of highways projects, the high market rating of organizations like NHAI and Cochin Shipyard, and the growing profit from the major ports which rose from Rs 3000 crore three years back to Rs 5000 crore last year are enough for the kind of investments planned. The Minister further said 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 called upon private investors to bid for the upcoming Access Controlled Expressway projects, the 14 Coastal Economic Zones, the 5 Smart Cities and many other such upcoming projects.
The Minister also informed that work has already begun to develop 10 out of the 111 waterways designated as National Waterways. He informed that 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.Talking about the Water Resources sector Shri Gadkari said India needs nearly Rs 3-5 lakh crore as investment for irrigation and river interlinking projects. He 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. He said it was the Government’s priority to stop the wastage of nearly 3000 TMC of Godavari water and reach it to the water starved Cauvery basin. The Polavaram project is also a priority, he said. For these, and other such projects the Government needs low interest loan, which he requested the banks and multilateral institutions to come forward with.Another area for which Shri Gadkari 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.Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, MoS (I/C) in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs was also present at the event. He said the housing programme of the Government is one of the most significant programmes undertaken to improve the living conditions in urban India. He said the sector holds a lot of potential as about 70 percent of urban India is yet to be built.