New Delhi: The government plans to sell highways projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore to foreign pension and insurance funds to attract overseas investments into the sector, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.
"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 Nitin Gadkari said at Mindmine Summit in New Delhi.
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 said.
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 percent of the road project cost would be provided by the government and 60 percent 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 percent.
The committee will submit its report soon, he said.
"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 percent growth in GDP through infrastructure sector.
He said by May 2016, the ministry will achieve a target of building 30 km of roads a day as against present 12 km a day.
"When the NDA government took over, the road building pace was barely 2 km a day which we will take to 14 km a day by the next month," he said.
On rising pollution, Gadkari said his ministry is promoting bio-fuel which will bring it down and also cut on huge Rs 6 lakh crore import bill of petroleum.
Gadkari said he supports the National Green Tribunal move to ban plying of more than 10 years old diesel vehicles but said it was not possible in two weeks.
"My submission is give some time. The ministry is trying to find out a solution," he said.
The National Green Tribunal, earlier this month had ordered a ban on plying of all diesel vehicles in the national capital that are more than ten years old, although it stayed its order for impounding of such vehicles by two weeks.
At the same time, Gadkari warned auto manufacturers to comply to pollution norms, saying that if they fail to do so.
"I will encourage foreign companies like Scania and Volkswagen if you don't want to change."
On ports and shipping front, he said the government will ensure passage of the bill to convert 101 rivers across the country in the current session of Parliament.
He said at present there are only five rivers stretches which have been declared as waterways and steps are on to develop all these, including Rs 4,200 crore project to develop Kolkata-Haldia stretch.
There are 13 power projects on the bank of Ganga and coal imports to these through waterways would be cost-effective, he said.
He added that Inland Waterways would be developed on the pattern of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
"We are looking at building smart cities at our 12 major ports and Haldia is soon going to be developed as the first green port since three lakh litres of bio-diesel a day is being manufactured there from edible oil. This is used in running railway engine and other vehicles there," he said.
He said the government has taken a number of initiatives, including expediting land acquisition for projects.
Such land acquisition move has resulted in Coal India arm Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) expanding its mines capacity and taking new projects.
"WCL, which was producing 30-35 million tonnes of coal only for the past 30 years, will be expanding output to 100 MT within a month," he said, adding that the government has been working on development-centric projects.
Besides, he said that the government will ensure that the GST bill is passed in the current session of Parliament.
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Updated Date: Apr 22, 2015 19:26:49 IST