Wiring up India with highway networks

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GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES for engineering and construction sectors.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES for engineering and construction sectors.

The National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) continues to make impressive progress. The highest ever number and value of contracts were awarded in calendar 2005. I propose to enhance the Budget support for NHDP from Rs 9,320 crore to Rs 9,945 crore in 2006-07.

A special accelerated road development programme for the North Eastern region at an estimated cost of Rs 4,618 crore has been approved. For 2006-07, I propose to provide a sum of Rs 550 crore for this programme.

The Government has also decided to develop 1,000 km of access-controlled Expressways. These will be on new alignment and built on the design, build, finance and operate (DBFO) model. The sections that have been identified are Vadodara-Mumbai, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Agra, Bangalore-Chennai and Kolkata-Dhanbad.

The concessionaires will be selected through an international competitive bidding process.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will be restructured and made more effective. It will be made into a multi-disciplinary body with the capacity to handle a large number of PPP projects. New skill areas in planning and quality assurance, standardisation, arbitration, road-safety and R&D will be created.

Bolstering the shores

The port sector alone will require Rs 55,804 crore. Work is in progress in 101 projects covering inland waterways, shipping and ports, which include deepening of channels in Kandla, JNPT and Paradip. I propose to increase the Plan allocation for the Department of Shipping by 37 per cent to Rs 735 crore.

A deep draft port is required in the eastern part of the country. I am happy to announce that it is proposed to carry out a detailed study to identify a suitable location for a new deep draft port in West Bengal. The existing National Institute of Port Management, Chennai, has been renamed as the National Maritime Academy, and it is proposed to upgrade it into a Central University under an Act of Parliament. The University will have regional campuses at Mumbai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam.

Public-pvt partnerships

India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd has been incorporated, and the first proposal for funds has been received. Several proposals have been received for viability gap funding for public-private partnership projects. In-principle approval has been granted to three road projects in Gujarat and a final decision is likely to be taken before March 31, 2007.

Renewing urban India

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was launched on December 3, 2005. For the next year, against the estimated outlay of Rs 6,250 crore, I propose to provide a grant of Rs 4,595 crore. Apart from the four projects, including Mumbai metro rail and Bangalore metro rail, mentioned in my Budget speech last year, the projects under active consideration include projects in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Planned urbanisation can act as a spur to growth, employment and a better quality of life.

The Government will actively promote the establishment of new towns, preferably focussed on a specific industry, for example information technology, or a specific theme, for example education or health.

Some projects are on the anvil in West Bengal and Karnataka.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 1, 2006)
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