Road Ministry to roll out $120-bn projects to widen NHs

In a bid to attract foreign investors to its ambitious highways building programme, the Road Transport Ministry plans to roll out projects worth USD 120 billion by 2016, a top official said.

New Delhi: In a bid to attract foreign investors to its ambitious highways building programme, the Road Transport Ministry plans to roll out projects worth USD 120 billion by 2016, a top official said.

This would be to widen about 55,000 km of highways as barely 23 percent of the total national highways in the country are four/six laned and foreign companies would be encouraged to invest here.

"Only about 23 percent of the highways in India are 4/6 laned and the sheer potential for investment in this sector is likely to create opportunities, which may also be attractive to foreign players. Investment in next five years is likely to be USD 120 billion (Rs 5.78 lakh crore)," the official said.

Last month, during his China visit, Highways Minister C P Joshi had invited Chinese investors to participate in the country's mega road projects, each entailing an investment of about Rs 4,900 crore (USD 1 billion).

As of August 2011, out of 214 projects under implementation with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), 40 are being implemented with participation from foreign firms.

"Indian-Russian firms are implementing a maximum nine projects, at present, followed by five each by Indian-Chinese and Indian-Spanish firms," the official said.

South Korean firms are executing four projects, while Indian-Dubai and Malaysian-Indian firms are implementing three each projects, besides two projects by South Korean-Indian JVs.

Apart from this, foreign firms have also extended consultancy in 64 projects.

The country has a road network of 33 lakh km, of which national highways constitute only 2 percent (about 71,000 km) but carry about 40 percent of the total road traffic.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too has raised concerns over highways deficit in the country, which led to Road Ministry seeking enhanced private participation to augment the sector.

"We have to make an intense and sustained effort to ensure that this deficit is bridged," the Prime Minister had said recently.

The Transport Ministry has set a target of awarding 7,300 km of roads in the current fiscal.

PTI

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