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Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari has urged investors to come forward and invest boldly in the infrastructure sector, which offers a diverse array of investment opportunities spanning multiple asset classes including highways, multimodal logistics parks, wayside amenities, ropeways, warehousing zones, and more.

Addressing the National Conference on Investment Opportunities in Highways, Transport & Logistics in Mumbai on Friday, Gadkari said “the Internal Rate of Return in the road sector is very high and hence there is no need to worry about economic viability".

The minister said, earlier, projects used to get stalled due to land acquisition issues. But we decided, a project will not be awarded before 90% of land acquisition is complete and environment clearance is obtained. Citing various other steps taken by his Ministry to speed up road infrastructure projects, the Minister said “Keep your confidence 110%’

Gadkari also spoke about the many benefits of upcoming projects under the Bharatmala Programme. "The travel time from Mumbai to Delhi, via road, will go down from 48 hours to 12 hours within one year; road projects and multimodal infrastructure projects will reduce logistics costs and boost manufacturing, increase exports and help the economy grow," he said.

Bharatmala Project is the umbrella flagship program for national highway development with a focus on improving the efficiency of freight and passenger movement along with the development of allied infrastructure projects.

The National Conference informed investors and other stakeholders that the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has planned to execute infrastructure projects worth Rs. 7 lakh crore in the next 2-3 years itself.

The Minister also spoke about the benefits of the Vehicle Scrapping Policy of the government. "This will reduce pollution, improve tax revenues, help the growth of automobile sector, boost exports and also create jobs," he said. "It is a win-win situation, in which investors on a high scale can come in," he added.

Speaking about the transformation the Vehicle Scrapping Policy will usher in, Gadkari said: “Vehicle Scrapping Policy will reduce pollution, improve tax revenues, growing the automobile sector, boost exports and create jobs. It is a win-win situation, in which investors on a high scale can come in."

The Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernization Policy aims to create an ecosystem for phasing out of unfit and polluting vehicles. Under the policy, around 50-70 Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facilities (RVSFs) will be set up across the country during the next 5 years to cater to the expected demand for scrapping of unfit vehicles in a safe manner.

The Minister said the automobile industry in India which is worth 7.5 lakh crore in size will double to 15 lakh crores in next 5 years. Speaking about green vehicles, Gadkari said “we are issuing an advisory on Flex Engines."

He also stressed upon alternative fuels like ethanol and asked Maharashtra Transport Department to launch ethanol-driven auto rickshaws in Pune, which already has three ethanol dispensing stations.

“Encouragement to alternative fuels will ultimately help the scrapping industry as well", the Minister added.

Speaking about the Asset Monetization roadmap, Gadkari cited the example of Mumbai – Pune Highway, which has brought a higher rate of returns to the state and the government. "Reliance had quoted 3,600 crores for the project. However, we decided to build it through MSRDC in Rs. 1,600 crores. Later on, the Maharashtra government monetized it for 3,000 crores and just recently the same project was again monetized for 8000 crores," he explained.

The Secretary, MoRTH Giridhar Aramane informed that an integrated plan and coordinated implementation of all infrastructure facilities is getting a boost through the Gati Shakti programme. “We are doing scientific Logistics Effectiveness Studies to understand bottlenecks in infrastructure projects. To remove bottlenecks, NHAI has identified 120 congestion points across the country; ring roads and bypasses are being built to reduce congestion in cities. After connecting all state capitals with at least four-lane National Highways, now we are planning to have expressways connecting all-important economic centres of the country."

The Secretary explained how improved policies and decision making has led to a tangible improvement in outcomes. “In order to facilitate work of contractors, we have thrown out all provisions which caused disputes and caused contractors a lot of pain and loss. NHAI took meetings with MDs of contractors and concessionaire companies and based on honest dialogue, problems in highway construction have been addressed. This has resulted in the record road construction of 37 kilometres per day last year."

Chairperson, NHAI, Alka Upadhyaya informed that NHAI is developing multiple facilities and allied infrastructure, in line with the Prime Minister’s visio4n for the promotion of integrated infrastructure under PM Gati Shakti National Plan. “The new thrust is on development of allied highway initiatives like MMLPs, last-mile connectivity through ropeway projects, fibre cables and other infrastructure along National Highways. Almost 8,400 state-of-the-art greenfield expressways are being built as part of Bharat Mala Pariyojana. These corridors will change the face of National Highways infrastructure and also supercharge the economy to a 5 trillion-dollar economy" she said.

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