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Indian road infrastructure to rival American roads by 2024: Nitin Gadkari

India is witnessing rapid development under Prime Minister Modi and road infrastructure in the country will be comparable with those in America by 2024 says, Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Govt. of India at an industry interaction session conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Speaking at the session on realizing India’s socio-economic vision through infrastructure investments, Shri Nitin Gadkari said that industry, agriculture, employment and infrastructure are the pillars of growth and development. We can no longer expect the government alone to make all investments and we need to find innovative financial models to secure financing of projects. The successful management of Liquid as well as Solid waste in Mathura is an excellent example and worth a case study.

“Road sector does not have a dedicated NBFC unlike power or railways, this needs to be addressed at the earliest. Tapping insurance funds and pension funds are viable options and we must also look at tie-ups with foreign funds to offer accessible loans after hedging against the dollar. An infrastructure focused NBFC is the need of the hour.”

“We are working to systemically address challenges in infrastructure development, earlier land acquisition was a problem and a major reason for delay. Today a project does not start before 80-90% of acquisitions are done. We have proposed project insurance in lieu of bank guarantees to speed up the process. Competition is healthy and we must strive for low cost high quality construction. Precast technology in tunnel development has been given the go ahead as it ensures faster TAT and reduces cost by as much as 30% and we are working to set up a precast factory in every district. Similarly using glass fiber in place of steel reduces cost by 30%. We are exploring use case for jute, waste plastic, and rubber as a replacement or addition to Bitumen in road construction”.

Acknowledging ASSOCHAM’s role in cost savings of 5,000 Crore in the construction of Zojila tunnel, the Minister says, “Environmentally conscious development is important and we are looking to replace diesel with ethanol which is cheaper and gives farmers additional income. We have also adopted transplantation in place of chopping down trees and we will need at least 1,000 contractors who are ready to transplant trees” the minister added.

The minister also spoke about on-going project in and around Delhi to reduce pollution and vehicular congestion in the city. Moving all wholesale markets, container depots and warehouses to peripheral areas of the city is being actively considered said the minister.

Mr. Gadkari also suggested a setting up of committee jointly with experts under ShyamKant Dharmadhikari to look into the issues related to tunneling.

Addressing the gathering Sumant Sinha, President, ASSOCHAM said, “The Central government, particularly the ministry of road transport and highways under the leadership of Nitin Gadkari, has overseen a rapid increase in the creation of world-class highways and overall road infrastructure in recent years. But the government can focus more on optimizing the cost of construction and lifetime maintenance, something we as a country lag behind developed nations. The government and the private sector can work more collaboratively to ensure we have best-in-class operational guidelines to keep our infrastructure in good shape for the longer-term, including making the assets more weather-resistance, especially during monsoons”.

Ajay Singh, Sr. Vice President, ASSOCHAM and Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet thanked the minister on behalf of 450,000 MSME members and assured the associations co-operation to the minister’s innovative initiatives.

The session was also addressed by industry veterans like Vinod Shukla, MD, FGS Engineers & Innovators and Co-Chair National Council on Tunnel and Underground Construction, Shri Ashutosh Chandwar, COO, DRAIPL and Chair National Council on Tunnel and Underground Construction, DK Sen, Chairman, National Council on Roads and Highways, ASSOCHAM & Whole-time Director & Sr. Executive Vice President (Development Projects), L&T Ltd., Ajay Hans, MD & CEO, Welspun Enterprises Ltd., Vinod K Agarwal Co-chair Road & Highway council, ASSOCHAM and Chairman, GR Infra projects, Shri Manish Chaturvedi, Managing Director, Shri Siata Prasad, Executive VP, APCO Infra, Saurabh Raju GM, Herrenknecht (I) Pvt. Ltd., Dhyanendra Tripathi GM – Project operations, Normet (I) Pvt. Ltd., Vibhore Agarwal, Director Machino International, Ankur Agarwal, Head Underground Product and sales, Epiroc Mining India Ltd. also spoke at the event.

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