On the sprawling lawns of The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi, crème de la crème of Indian Infrastructure space, including three Cabinet ministers, top bureaucrats and industry honchos came together on Thursday evening as News Corp VCCircle launched India’s first digital news platform dedicated to infrastructure universe.
The minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari, who was the chief guest for the event, termed InfraCircle a “remarkable platform” and said it would not only be useful for all stakeholders in India but also global investors who are keenly watching the developments in India. “Even the ones from western countries will benefit as it would provide correct information about policies, decision making and performance of the sector,” said Gadkari.
He said, “Infrastructure as a sector is not just an employment generator, but is also a growth engine. By ensuring that land acquisition processes are made less complicated and improving cross ministerial coordination to get projects cleared and off the ground, the cost of projects have been optimized. This has facilitated the return of investor interest in road projects. Initiatives like construction of 40 kilometers of roads every day, building the 14 express-highways and exploring the potential of in-land waterways can boost our GDP growth by 2-3%.”
Gadkari’s keynote was followed by a power-packed panel discussion where his ministerial colleagues Suresh Prabhu, minister for railways, and Chaudhary Birender Singh, minister for steel, joined him to articulate the key challenges hindering India’s infrastructure growth and the possible solutions. The panel discussion was moderate by Utpal Bhaskar, editor, InfraCircle.
Prabhu said, “Now customer is at the centre of railway infrastructure. We said let’s make a change and let people give feedback… We are now able to provide help and services to passengers in real time.”
“We are heading towards Rs.1,00,000 crore capex mark with Rs.40,000 crore worth of orders being on track. From being a highly centralized institution, we are now looking to include states as key stakeholders. So far 16 states have given their approval to our plan,” he added.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by steel industry, Birender Singh said the industry needs to focus on research to remain competitive and sail through global headwinds. He said government was doing its bit to protest Indian steel industry from outside attack. “As a result of the anti-dumping measures taken in the last 10 months, imports have fallen by 40 per cent and exports are up 50 per cent. Extending the Minimum Import Price (MIP) regime on 66 steel items will alleviate the steel industry, which has been under stress over the past two years,” said Singh.
Speaking at the launch, Nita Kapoor, head- India new ventures, News Corp and CEO, News Corp VCCircle said, “Subscribers of InfraCircle will be able to access infrastructure related news as it breaks, accompanied by analysis, opinion pieces and smart infographics on the go. We are poised to be the most credible source of information, therefore some of the content will be placed behind the pay wall.”
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