New Delhi: The government has undertaken proactive steps to ensure construction momentum is maintained and, the ministry has come up with a revised BOT toll document and proposed a new HAM document by revisiting the existing document by affecting many changes which have been sent to concerned stakeholders ministries for their feedback and suggestions, deliberated Mr. Amit Kumar Ghosh, IAS, Joint Secretary (Highways), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India in the inaugural session of “National Roads and Highways Sector in India” organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Mr. Ghosh shared that there will be an increase in the funding towards the National Infrastructure Plan, in the next 5 years. He mentioned that we need to shorten the timelines of ToT for this management committee, formed for building new mechanisms for asset monetization and funding of projects.
He also shared that the ministry in consultation with World Bank has started a new initiative of Inter Modal Stations (IMS), the first one already under implementation in Ajni near Nagpur. He further added 35 Multimodal Logistics Parks (MMLPs) are planned with public sector MMLP to be set up in the North East Region. The idea is not just to build roads, but also to increase Logistics Efficiency in India.
Mr. R K Pandey, Member – Projects, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) while deliberating about the importance of quality roads mentioned that the Bharatmala program is one of the ambitious programs of the Government, planned in phases, emphasizing mobility that needs to be focused for the betterment of the future. We are even focusing on greenfield alignment.
He discussed that in order avoid delay in road projects there will be no award of projects till 90% of the land required for the project is acquired and for any reason, any part of the land for road projects is not available, then it will be separated from existing scope work of concession agreement and the whole process of acquisition has now been digitized by Bhoomi Rashi portal set up the government.
He further added that and in case of disputes arises before and during the construction phase, NHAI has set up three reconciliation committees that have settled 51 cases of claims out of 124 to date. Talking about the success of the road sector, he mentioned that every sector of demand of the market has been taken into consideration. He also mentioned that looking at the present times, we are planning and making at various models that will help to generate employment and finances at the same time giving ignition to this sector. He said that alternate dispute resolution has been the main focus of NHAI.
Mr. Pandey highlighted that we are looking for performance, not outlook, and shared that the process of land acquisition is speeding up with the help of technology. There is also simplification and speed up in the process of dispute resolution as well. He also shared that we have given full freedom to contractors for cost reduction.
Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his presidential remarks congratulated Mr. Ghosh and Mr. Pandey for being successfully awarded the third bundle of National Highways projects under the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) route, under the dynamic leadership of Shri Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister for Road, Transport and Highways, Govt. of India.
Mr. Aggarwal mentioned that Roads and highways are one of the most significant parts of any country’s infrastructure sector, and are also used as an indicator of any country’s economic prosperity.
Talking about the programs and initiatives undertaken by the government in the past few years, he talked about the Bharatmala program, being a game-changer program giving opportunities to stakeholder involvement followed by Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) route which will further act as a force multiplier in employment generation and sectoral growth back to pre-pandemic levels at the same time overcome the issues and challenges due to pandemic.
Mr. Aggarwal recommended the need for facilitating heavy funding in the infrastructure projects in the form of mega investments that will give a boost to this sector. He also recommended changing the bidding process by restricting the number of bidders and not allowing them to quote below the estimated price. He emphasized the need to prepare good quality DPRs to ensure that all the technicalities have been addressed. Coordination between the state and central governments is also pivotal to speed up the project implementation process. He further added the there is a need to revisit issues such as the bidding process, poor quality of DPRs, clearances, and dispute resolution mechanism
for ensuring the growth momentum.
Mr. Sudhir Hoshing, Chairman, Infrastructure Development Committee, PHD Chamber of Commerce, and Industry while giving an industry perspective mentioned that roads are the key to wiping the poverty from a country as it’s linked to employment generation, city development leading to change in the mindset of countrymen. He discussed that the road sector has been a churning sector despite the pandemic and the need of the hour is to reduce the cost of road construction at the same time using durable construction material as well.
Mr. Ashish Wig, Mentor, Infrastructure Development Committee, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry discussed that road infrastructure is the key drivers towards the growth of the economy. He also discussed the need to focus on road construction along with the intervention in the technology.
Mr. Saurabh Sanyal, Secretary-General, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his concluding remarks deliberated that India has a well-developed framework for Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) in the highway sector and The Government of India is planning to expand the national highway network in the next few years. As the world prepares for the ‘new normal’ after COVID-19, every stakeholder, from the government, Corporates and bankers, needs to take action to adapt to their new reality and give ignition towards making India Self-Reliant.
The session was moderated by Dr. Ranjeet Mehta, Principal Director, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and was attended by many industry stalwarts pan-India.