Washington, July 12 (IANS) With India needing about a trillion dollars for infrastructure development, India’s Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has highlighted investment opportunities in India for US investors.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi making the country’s infrastructure development the top-most priority of the government, “This is a golden opportunity to invest in India,” he told a roundtable organised here Monday by the US-India Business Council (USIBC).
“We are committed to improving the country’s road, highways, and port connectivity in a time-bound, result oriented, corruption-free and transparent manner that includes e-governance and fast-tracking decision-making,” Gadkari said.
“The pace of road construction has accelerated to an all-time high of 20 kilometres per day and next year we plan to increase it to 41 km per day,” he said.
Gadkari later told Indian media that thanks to recent government decisions there are no road blocks to investment in transportation sector with 95 percent of issues facing investors resolved. “Previous image of investment climate in India is completely changed.”
During his meeting Monday with US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, he had discussed at length all the problems facing India in the transportation sector.
Gadkari said he had made road safety his first priority as he was very much disturbed by about 500,000 accidents every year that took a toll of about 150,000 lives.
US side had expressed its willingness to share all manuals of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help bring about standardisation of codes and greater safety, he said.
The roundtable at the USIBC was attended by senior executives of US and Indian companies that included TransAsia Infrastructure, Uber, Bentley Systems, Tata, Caterpillar, Moody’s, DLZ Corporation and Texas Instruments.
The discussion was focused around Gadkari’s plans and vision to strengthen India’s infrastructure, investment opportunities in road construction and port-led industrialization, and how US industry can collaborate with the Government of India.
Gadkari also spoke on the new highways under construction in the country, financing mechanisms under PPP models, framing policies for logistics parks, modernisation of roads, building intelligent traffic systems for road safety and further innovation and technology to India’s logistics sector.
Gadkari has envisaged around $150 billion investments for the highways sector in the next five years with a range of projects to suit each investor’s risk and return expectations.
Gadkari’s team highlighted specific investment opportunities in the highways sector and shared details of the Sagarmala Project – the Ministry’s flagship port-led development initiative to bring down logistics cost and boost investment, exports, and jobs.
“With an upsurge in India’s e-commerce markets and the unprecedented growth in Indian cities, there is a critical need for advanced logistical services and better transportation infrastructure,” USIBC president Mukesh Aghi said.
“It is timely and urgent to explore the full potential of US-India collaboration in this sector,” he said.
Gadkari also gave a talk Monday on “A window into India’s Infrastructure Development “organized by Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])