Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation is a busy man to catch up with. With Bharatmala and Sagarmala gaining traction, in an exclusive interaction, Gadkari tells RAHUL KAMAT about his ministry's envisaged plans and progress report of the last three years.
With Rs.6.92 lakh crore to be invested in India's historic road building programme, what are your fund raising plans?
We are planning to raise Rs 2.9 lakh crore from the equity market, Rs 1.06 lakh crore from private investments and Rs 2.19 lakh crore from Central Road Funds (CRF) or toll-operate-transfer (TOT) or toll road (BOT) projects. Meanwhile, we have other schemes through which we will construct around 48,000 km of roads with an outlay of Rs 1.50 lakh crore. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and MoRTH will also be raising funds in parallel: Rs 0.97 lakh crore from CRF and Rs 0.59 lakh crore from gross budgetary support. Lastly, monetisation of 82 operating highways with investment potential of Rs 34,000 crore has been taken up with the first bundle of nine NH stretches of 680 km bid out with a monetisation value of Rs 6,200 crore.
What elements are considered in Bharatmala?
In Bharatmala, we have considered various elements such as economic corridors and lane expansions to decongest existing highways. Also, to quicken up intra-state economic activities, we are connecting states which are important production and consumption centres of India. For this purpose, we have identified around 44 corridors. In addition, my ministry is entirely responsible for establishing roads for coastal and port connectivity, greenfield expressways in high density stretches and connectivity to border areas with neighbouring countries considering our trade relations, to cite a few.
How is Sagarmala likely to change the scenario of India's port sector?
With the Indian economy poised to grow faster, our government is taking all possible measures for a quantum jump in the maritime activities. We are upgrading our infrastructure and reforming the regulatory framework for ease of doing business. Sagarmala, which is our flagship programme for port-led development, has four factors: port modernisation and new port development, port connectivity, port-led industrialisation and port community development. Under this programme, six new major ports, 150 projects for modernising existing ports including construction of new berths and 130 projects in rail and road sectors for last mile connectivity have been identified requiring an investment of $100 billion by 2025, of which about $40 billion has already been spent. Around 111 inland waterways fit for river navigation have been identified, of which 32 will be developed in the first phase at an estimated investment of $800 million. These projects provide major investment opportunities for the international community.
You have plans of achieving Rs.25 lakh crore of works in highway and shipping in the next five years. How are you planning to achieve it?
First, you need to understand how we are going to implement this programme. Let me begin with Sagarmala. The Sagarmala project will attract investments worth Rs 16 lakh crore, of which Rs 4 lakh crore will be related to port-led development, in addition to mechanisation, modernisation and greenfield ports. At present, we have already awarded projects worth Rs 1.80 lakh crore, of which Rs 30,000 to 40,000 crore worth projects are in the tendering stage. Besides, we are developing special economic zones in ports, which will encourage exports, bring in investments worth Rs 60,000 crore and improve employment opportunities. For instance, in Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) we have already received investment intention from 22 players, of which one company is investing around Rs 6,000 crore in the first phase and providing 40,000 employments. From JNPT alone, we are expecting employment of around 1.25 lakh and from another company, whose name I would not like to divulge currently, is providing us 200 acre with guaranteed employment count of one lakh. For export-oriented economy, we are investing in chemical clusters, wooden furniture clusters and automobile clusters. We are also investing in building oil refineries, LNG terminals, bunkers, etc.
Along with strengthening the export-oriented economy, we have envisaged around 2,000 river ports in 111 rivers, which are now converted into waterways to make intra-state economy stronger. Of these, we have plans to develop 40 river ports, of which work on 10 river ports has already started. We have already commenced dredging work in Ganga and awarded Rs 1,700 crore worth of work. Work has begun on the development of three multi-modal logistics hub. We shall soon start nine ferry services in Ganga, eight Ro-Ro services in Brahmaputra and, similar to air traffic control, we will have river traffic control from Patna to Haldia. Work on this project has already been completed and the system is ready to take off. We have awarded work worth Rs 450 crore to build Farraka barrage.
Along with linking rivers, we are also connecting our ports with necessary railway infrastructure. We have sanctioned two big railway projects from Talcher to Paradip and from Manmad to Indore, and both are ready to take off. We are investing around Rs 1 lakh crore in projects. These projects will be implemented by a special purpose vehicle called Port Rail Connectivity Corporation.
In India, we have 12 major and around 200 minor ports. My government is working tirelessly to connect every port through road and rail so that there will be swift movement of traffic.
This apart, we have prepared detailed project report (DPR) for ports including Vijaydurga, Vadhvan in Maharashtra, Colachel in Kanyakumari district and greenfield ports in Sagar island and Tajpur.
Give us some understanding about your ministry's achievements in the last three years?
Till now, we have awarded projects worth more than Rs 7.50 lakh crore. Every work is awarded with full transparency, clear timelines, stress on quality and zero tolerance against corruption. When I had taken charge as minister, around 403 stalled projects were stuck in limbo due to clearance issues or promoters' intention. We terminated financially unviable projects and saved Rs 3 lakh crore from nonperforming assets. This is one of the biggest achievements of our government.
- Rahul Kamat