iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
The inaugural function of the 19th Indo-US Economic Summit of The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce saw the Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari urging US investors to invest in road and highway projects in India. He referred to these projects as a gold mine for the investors.
While inaugurating the 19th Indo-US Economic Summit virtually Gadkari said that the US and India are prominent democracies of the world with strong bilateral relations. He said, “We are natural partners and have a lot to contribute to mutual growth. Both countries have always shown mutual trust, respect, and cooperation on the social, economic, and strategic front. The theme chosen this year – The New Agenda for the next 25 years – will set the roadmap for strengthening our relationship.”
Gadkari said the government is investing $ 1.4 trillion in infrastructure development through National Infrastructure Pipeline. “The road sector will account for 19% of this capital expenditure made over the period of 2019 to 2025.”
“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 km of the national highway network. At present, this network has reached around 1.47 lakh km. The government aims to expand the national highway network to 2 lakh km by 2025,” he added.
Minister informed the participants of the event that 27 Greenfield Expressways of 10,000 km were being constructed across the country with an investment of $ 60 billion. He said that these corridors will result in a 14% reduction in travel distance between the key economic centers and would further ensure a reduction in Transportation costs by 2.5%. In addition, around 110 crore liters of fuel will be saved and carbon dioxide emissions will be brought down by 250 crore kg every year.
Gadkari informed the audience that the government is formulating a new policy called the ‘Tree Bank’ for Tree Cutting and Tree Transplantation. As per policy, Authorities such as NHAI, NHIDCL, Airport, and Port Authority have to maintain a Tree Bank account having a 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 to 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 designing the best financial instruments to enable investments in Indian Infra Space. We have a 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.”
Gadkari added that India is becoming the largest EV market for electric two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and cars. He said that the government is encouraging solar and wind energy-based charging mechanisms for electric mobility.
Calling upon the chamber to contribute to the development of low-cost and reliable Electrolysers and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology, Gadkari said: “We are also working on the development of an Electric Highway which will be powered by solar, This will facilitate charging of heavy duty trucks and buses while running. US-based companies can collaborate with our research and development efforts for EV battery technologies and retrofitting industry. Our National Hydrogen Mission offers incentives for the production and transportation of Green Hydrogen.”