New Delhi: Mumbai-based construction firm Shapoorji Pallonji and Co. Ltd will develop stretches of national highways in partnership with Spanish road maker Cintra Concesiones De Infraestructuras De Transporte SA, part of the $6.6-billion (Rs29,106 crore) Grupo Ferrovial SA.
A Shapoorji Pallonji executive confirmed the firm has bid for national highway projects jointly with Cintra.
“We are in the pre-qualification stages for many projects right now. We will be bidding for projects under phase I and phase V of the NHDP (National Highway Development Programme),” said the company official, who declined being named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Growing network: Construction work being carried out on NH58 to convert it to a six-lane highway. Photograph: Rajeev Dabral / Mint
The consortium has placed initial bids for at least 14 highway stretches, according to an official at the National Highways Authority of India, or NHAI, which administers NHDP that aims to upgrade some 30,000km of interstate roads.
The grouping is one of eight shortlisted for two road projects—Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh to Dehradun in Uttarkhand, and from Ghaziabad to Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh—the NHAI official said, requesting anonymity.
Emails sent to Cintra weren’t immediately answered.
Shapoorji Pallonji will initially focus on highways owing to the comparatively higher number of projects coming up for bidding, its executive said. “In railways, there is a lot of talk but nothing really has happened so far.”
Shapoorji Pallonji, which has previously developed a highway in Tamil Nadu, primarily builds highways for a fee without owning them. Cintra is one of Europe’s largest toll road operators, operating 23 toll highways totalling 2,800km in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Chile, Canada and the US.
The two companies will have equal stakes in the special purpose companies they will create to build highways if they win project bids, the Shapoorji Pallonji executive said.
Cintra is the second Spanish company to bid for road projects in India. Mint had reported on 9 January that foreign companies had won three of five highway development projects the government offered at that time. Spanish firm Grupo Isolux Corsan SA was one of them, winning a a contract to develop 291km stretch of highway between Panipat in Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab.
“Shapoorji has construction experience, while Cintra has experience with developing highways,” said Harsh Shrivastava, vice-president of marketing for infrastructure consultant Feedback Ventures Pvt. Ltd. “Construction experience is not the same as developing and running a six-lane expressway. Also, both NHAI and World Bank (funded) projects require some experience.”
The government estimates $50–60 billion of investment is required in five years to improve roads. India’s 66,000km national highway network carries nearly 40% of all road traffic. Annual growth is projected at 12-15% for passengers and 15-18% for cargo.