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India to step up spending on highways programme

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 22: India would need to step up spending on road infrastructure from current level of Rs 6000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore annually to meet its ambitious highway development programme, point out eminent national and international experts from road and finance sectors.

''India would require to spend more than Rs 1,85,000 crore by 2012 if it is to meet the goals set under the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) Phase III, IV, V, VI and VII and Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP) for the North-East,'' experts said.

In effect, it would entail raising the current investment level of Rs 6,000 crore annually to Rs 25,000 crore every year till 2012 in the road sector.

The upgradation of state highways and rural roads would require another Rs 2,35,000 crore.

These observations were made at the first two-day regional conference on The conference was organised by International Road Federation (IRF) in tandem with the Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

The NHDP Phase III to VII and SARDP envisage building of new roads as well as two-laning, four-laning of around 55,000 km of roads by 2012.

The experts said the current source of fund raising for financing of road infratstructure, which includes cess on fuel, external assistance, budgetary support, market borrowing, private sector investment and toll funding, would be enough only to take care of about 60 per cent of funding requirement.

''This means stakeholders will have to find ways and means for the 40 per cent deficit,'' said Mr G Sharan, Member (Technical), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

Deliberating on the challenges ahead, Mr Sharan said private participation both from India and abroad would have to be roped in large measure than had been the case till date to meet huge surge in investment requirement.

Mr L K Joshi, Secretary, Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Ministry, said during his inaugural address that the government was actively considering establishing a Commissionerate of Road safety.

''The proposal for establishing such a body is on active stage of consideration by a Group of Secretaries and its recommendation would be later forwarded to the Cabinet,'' Mr Joshi informed.

The manin objective of the first IRF Regional Conference in India was to provide a platform for a meaningful interaction amongst stakeholders, aiming to review the road sector policies beneficial to business and environment for future road sector development programme in India.

The conference came at a time when India has embarked upon major inititaives in highways sector, broadly known as the NHDP which comprises the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) and North-South-East-West Corridor spanning a length of 13,000 km, at a cost of Rs 54,000 crore In addition, widening and strengthening of National Highways of over 50,000 km, State Highways over 130,000 km and major district roads over 400,000 km and village and other roads over 25,00,000 km are also being taken up.

Besides Mr Joshi and Mr Sharan, those who addressed the conference included Mr Santosh Nautiyal, NHAI Chairman; Lt Gen. Ranjit Singh, E-in-C Army; Mr Tony Pearce, Director General, IRF; Mr B N Puri, Adviser, Planning Commission; Mr George Thakaran, Lead Transport Specialist, World Bank; and Mr Shunso Tsukada, Principal Transport Specialist, ADB.

UNI

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