Union minister of road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari on Thursdaysaid there is no financial crunch in the roads and shipping sector.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has awarded projects worth Rs.4,50,000 crore in the shipping, ports and roads sector, out of which Rs.3,50,000 to Rs.3,75,000 crore are in the roads sector, while Rs.80,000 to Rs.1,00,000 crore are in the shipping sector, said Gadkari. He was speaking at the launch of InfraCircle in New Delhi.
“We are welcome for investment and we have no financial crunch at this point. Our financial strength is really good, NHAI’s toll income is around Rs.10,000 crore per year and it has an ‘AAA rating’. We can get around Rs.1,50,000-Rs.1,60,000 crore from the market. We have also been given a Rs.75,000 crore tax exemption bond. There are around 100 projects which we want to monetise. From that, we can easily get about Rs.100,000 crore,” Gadkari told a audience which included industry captains and top bureaucrats from infrastructure space.
The government’s focus is on improving the country’s transportation architecture and Rs.2.18 trillion has been earmarked for roads and railways in financial year 2016-17. The Union Budget for 2016-17 puts the total investment in the road sector at Rs,97,000 crore with Rs.55,000 crore allocated for roads and highways, topped by an additional Rs.15,000 crore to be raised by NHAI through bonds.
Gadkari said the rate of construction of highways in the current financial year is 27-28km per day, highest ever. He said his ministry was working towards constructing national highways at the rate of 41km per day.
“When our government came to power, around 403 small projects worth Rs.3,75,000 crore were on the verge of being shut. Out of that, around 95% such projects were studied by us and we found out solutions… those projects are running fast now and the rate of road construction has also increased significantly. The road construction, which once came down to 2km a day, is now around 27-28km a day. The target of 41km a day has been kept. It is a difficult one. I don’t know whether we will succeed or not, but we are trying our best,” Gadkari added.
Indian road network of 3.3 million km is the second largest in the world. The national highway network, only 2% of total roads, carries 40% of the country’s traffic.
Earlier this year, Gadkari had announced increasing the existing length of national highways to 200,000km from 97,135km.
Gadkari also stated that the shipping sector made a profit of about Rs.6,000 crore in the previous year and the government has hired an international consultant for the mechanisation and upgrade of the ports.
“For the mechanisation and modernisation of the ports and to upgrade them to international standards, we have appointed an international consultant. With the recommendations of the consultant, we are going at a fast pace but are still not up to the international standards. But within a year, we will be off the mark,” Gadkari added.
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