Innovative technologies imperative to spur road construction: Nitin Gadkari

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While addressing an interactive session on Reviving & Strengthening the Roads Sector, jointly organized by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as part of Make in India Week in Mumbai, Mr Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister of Road Transport & Highways & Shipping, Government of India, mentioned that some of the measures which would enhance efficiency of this sector are reduction in the cost of construction and improving overall quality. In this regard, Government has already started work to create 25-30 pre-cast yards in the country to improve quality and curtail costs. Further, he deliberated that the Government is already encouraging utilization of waste material, iron slags, and plastic, in road construction to improve its quality. He suggested that India should follow international best practices in this sector.

Referring to government’s ambitious plan, Mr Gadkari said that India has the capability to build 100 Kms per day, and this can be achieved by joint efforts of contractors, investors and the overall system. In his view, private sector should pool in resources to scale up investment in this sector, facilitating growth of this sector, along with participating in the development of logistic parks.

Mr. Raghav Chandra, Chairman, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), said that 54% of transportation is done via road sector and highways. Cautious approach needs to be adopted ascertaining that appropriate assessment of life cycle is being done; detailed project report (DPR) is being done, technological projects are being made bankable, importance is being given to pre-construction activities, and appropriate financial closure. Massive change is desired in terms of creating competitiveness, enhancing capabilities, change in mindset and strengthening road safety. In his opinion, Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) model introduced by government would efficiently help government to generate revenue which would be ploughed back for further investments.

Earlier, setting the context of the interactive session, Mr GV Sanjay Reddy, Chairman, CII National Committee on Infrastructure and Vice Chairman, GVK Power & Infrastructure Limited, lauded government’s efforts in resurrecting the pace of growth of the road sector. He said this has triggered revival of construction and contracting activities. In his opinion, this sector has potential to influence the growth of rural India.

Mr V L Patankar, Director, The Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE), said that using innovative material and technologies would essentially help to save the cost, reduce construction time, and preserve environment. Highlighting the government’s initiatives in support of this, Mr Patankar mentioned that new technology providers are registered with Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and usage of any of the innovative technologies which are embedded in the specifications is allowed. He suggested that technology should be used for all the stages of a project i.e planning, design, operational, etc., as this would facilitate sustainable progress.

Mr. K Ramchand, President & CEO, IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited, urged that the process of signing contract should undergo a change as currently the contract does not have scope for re-negotiation.

Mr. Sameer Bhatia, President, CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory Ltd., brought attention towards prevailing issues in contract management and construction which requires urgent attention such as delays in land acquisition, delays in environment and forest clearances, pre-construction obstructions and banking issues.

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