Friday, 22 November 2013

14th Meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways regarding “PPP Projects in Economic Downturn” was held today

Road Transport & Highways
Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Shri Oscar Fernandes has said that the Government has envisaged during 12th Five Year Plan, a growth rate of 9.7% for the economy over the plan period and estimated investment in infrastructure has been pegged at $ 1 Trillion (around Rs. 62 trillion). Out of this, the Road Program alone targets upgrading or strengthening of around 55,000 + km of the highways in several phases with an investment of around INR 5,890 billion (approx. US $ 95 billion), over next five years. 
With existing limitations in terms of Government Resources and its requirements for public spending, a large portion of this project expenditure is expected to be funded through private sector through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. Shri Fernandes was addressing the 14th Meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Road Transport & Highways. The topic of discussion in this meeting was “PPP Projects in Economic Downturn”.
Shri Fernandes further added that the  Ministry is working on continuous basis in identifying issues and taking necessary steps through a participatory process. Policy Initiatives in appropriate directions along with sustained follow up action to address the same within short time are being undertaken. Major initiatives by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in recent past include the following :
i.              After rounds of deliberation at the highest level, debt exposure for lenders in highway projects in PPP mode has been considered as secured through a RBI circular dated March 18, 2013. This step is likely to encourage lenders to participate in financing of highways projects.
ii.             Sustained follow up action with the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Ministry of Law and other concerned Departments, have been taken to address environment and forest related aspects pertaining to the sector including approvals and clearances. This has been resulted in

a.    Delinking Environmental Clearance (EC) from Forest Clearance (FC), which would facilitate expeditious execution of projects.
b.    Exemption from requirement of No Objection Certificate (NOC) under Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006), which would also facilitate expeditious execution of projects.
c.    Treating strengthening and widening of National Highway (NH) projects different from new projects and allowing construction of NHs in the Non-Forest areas involving widening so that expenditure does not become infructuous in such projects.
d.    Increasing the threshold for EC requirement in case of widening of roads from the present levels of 30 km length and widening up to 20 m to proposed levels of 100 km length and 60 m width, which would facilitate expeditious execution of projects.

iii.            Procedural Simplification in approval of projects costing up to Rs. 500 crores (both PPP and Public Funded).
iv.           Ceiling of 4000 km of four laning in National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-IV enhanced to 8000 km, for being undertaken on BOT (Toll) mode only, based on traffic justification as per IRC code and guidelines.
v.            A three stage dispute resolution process has been evolved by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Board to resolve the pending disputes expeditiously in a systematic rational and time bound manner has been made operational.
Members of Parliament who are members of this standing committee, participated in the discussions. They suggested for expediting pending projects. Dr.Tushar A. Chaudhary, Minister of State and other senior officers of Road Transport & Highways were also present.

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