New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the opening ceremony of the third annual general meeting of the board of governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Tuesday in Mumbai.
Aimed at improving ‘social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond,’ AIIB started operations in January 2016. With 86 countries as members, it has an authorized capital base of $100 billion. India has been receiving funding from AIIB, with the multilateral development bank deciding to invest around $1 billion here.
“Given AIIB’s mandate, we are interested in big infrastructure partnerships with AIIB in sectors such as metro rails, high speed railways, roads, power and other connectivity projects such as rapid regional transport systems (RRTS)," said an Indian government official, requesting anonymity.
The first of its kind RRTS are expected to have a design speed of 180 kmph, with the National Capital Region Transport Corp., a joint venture of government of India and state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi having identified three such RRTS corridors— Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Panipat and Delhi-Alwar Smart in first phase.
“Even Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation is interested in financing from AIIB for the four new lines," added the government official quoted above.
This year’s AIIB meet theme is Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration, given the private sector’s vital role in bridging the infrastructure gap.
Subhash Chandra Garg, India’s economic affairs secretary had earlier said that the “event will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the strengths of the Indian economy and introduce AIIB members to potential infrastructure investment opportunities in India and Asia".
Infrastructure development has been one of the focus areas of the Narendra Modi government. Starting with an allocation of around ₹ 1.81 trillion in 2014-15, expenditure towards infrastructure reached ₹ 4.94 trillion in 2017-18.
According to AIIB, India requires around “$1.5 trillion in investment over the next 10 years to bridge the infrastructure deficit that exists in the country". Given the financing constraints, the numbers seem daunting. According to the Economic Survey presented in January, India will face a $526 billion infrastructure investment gap by 2040.
India’s position on OBOR was further cemented earlier this month, when Modi underlined the need for a respect for sovereignty and transparency in connectivity projects among the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the18th summit in Qingdao. While Modi did not mention China by name, India has objected to a section of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative running through disputed Kashmir.
“India welcomes any such (connectivity) project which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent, and which respects member states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity," Modi said.
OBOR, first unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to put billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe.
India on its part is also moving ahead with its plans of accessing transnational multi-modal connectivity to articulate its role in the proposed transportation architecture in the region and beyond. It has been working on initiatives such as South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity program, the Great Asian Highway and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), the ambitious multi-modal transportation project involving Iran, Russia and India.