Washington : Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari concluded his weeklong whirlwind official visit to the U.S., successfully extracting assurances from infrastructure and investment companies to provide the necessary technical expertise as well as capital to further boost the robust Indian maritime, roads and highways sectors.
Gadkari held a series of productive interactions with investment bankers, fund managers and captains of trade and industry in infrastructure sector at business platforms in Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and placed on record convincing statistics of the rapid growth of this sector under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which the potential American investors found highly exciting and rewarding.
Gadkari outlined government’s policy initiatives and his own vision to strengthen India’s infrastructure sector and offered lucrative investment opportunities in road and highways construction and port-led industrialisation listing the incentives to the U.S. industry for joint ventures and collaborations on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
He dispelled apprehensions with regard to bottle necks and red tape in India’s administrative set up and assured that Prime Minister Modi has made the country’s infrastructure development top-most priority of his government.
India, under Prime Minister Modi, the minister asserted, remains committed to improving the country’s road, highways, and port connectivity in a time-bound, result oriented, corruption-free and transparent manner through e-governance and fast-tracking decision-making process.
Gadkari also explained the new highways under construction in the difficult terrains of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh, Himalayas, the North-Eastern Region and coastal areas and the financing mechanisms under PPP models, framing of policies for logistics parks and modernisation of roads.
Alok Srivastava, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, through power point presentations shared details on the Sagarmala Programme – the Ministry’s flagship port-led development initiatives to bring down logistics cost and boost investment, exports, and jobs.
Rohit Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary (Highways) and Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary (Road and Transport), in their presentations, told the success story of India’s roads and highways in the last two years of NDA government and highlighted specific investment opportunities in the road, highways and road safety sectors.
Gadkari held official talks with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and sought cooperation in sharing the intelligent traffic systems and transfer of technology in road engineering, use of IT in reducing road accidents, centrally controlled traffic light surveillance systems for road safety.
Gadkari visited Tesla and proposed joint ventures between the electric car manufacturers and the Indian automobile companies with a view to introducing pollution free road transport in India, especially commercial and public motor vehicles. He offered Tesla to make India their Asia manufacturing hub and offered land near major Indian ports to facilitate export of their vehicles to South and South East Asian countries.
Gadkari said Indian was committed to encouraging alternate pollution free transport in the country by providing incentives to bio-fuel, CNG, Ethanol and electric vehicles. Gadkari received an enthusiastic welcome at the Silicon Valley where members of the Indian Global Indian Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) , were positive in their response to his call for bringing innovations and technologies to India in key sectors of the economy.
He highlighted the policy initiatives of “ease of doing business”, “Start up India movement” and “Make in India” programme, and invited American Indians to join the government in making them a success assuring a hassle free process. Gadkari also visited Bloom Energy engaged in energy generation with innovative technologies.
He addressed largely attended meetings organised by the Overseas Friends of BJP in New Jersey, San Francisco and Los Angeles and assured them that positive impact of Indian policy initiatives in road transport, highways and shipping sectors have given a boost to the Indian economy which is now growing as one of the emerging economies in the world.
Gadkari went on a mission to study the structure of the Mississippi River inland waterways at St. Louis Port and undertook a tour of world’s most commercially viable inland waterways system of the river which has 40,000 kilometers of navigable water covering almost the entire North America and assessed the feasibility of similar arrangements in making the Ganga river waterways navigable in an effective and commercially viable manner.
Gadkari, who is currently engaged in constructing national highways in the difficult terrains of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the North-Eastern Region and Himalayas- Pithoragarh to Mansarovar and from Haridwar to Gangotri, Yamunotri, and Badrinath and Kedarnath, gained a first-hand experience of the latest techniques in road engineering, highway construction, road signage and other effective measures for road safety while undertaking road journey along this prestigious ocean route covering 800 kms from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Gadkari also held wide-ranging discussions with the representatives of Harbor Department of the City of Long Beach and offered investment opportunities in building and developing new ports, construction of new berths/terminals in existing ports, coastal economic zones, dredging, ship building, ship repairing, ship recycling, development of inland waterways and coastal and cruise shipping.
He went round the Port of Long Beach and explored joint venture opportunities with India’s flagship container handling Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) to promote transfer of technology and enhance bilateral commerce.
Gadkari said India and the United States have agreed to deepen the scope of cooperation in the maritime sector with the American Ports evincing keen interest in the comprehensive port-led development, especially the ambitious Sagarmala programme under which 150 projects have the potential of mobilizing USD 50-60 billion of infrastructure investment and another USD 100 Billion of promoting industrial growth.
The shipping minister outlined the regulatory assistance which the Narendra Modi government has offered to the maritime sector, including grant of infrastructure status to shipyards, supportive domestic eligibility criteria for Indian shipyards for assured ship repair orders, service tax exemption on ship repair service for foreign going vessels, setting up of ship repairing business immediately without any approval from director generals.
Gadkari said he was returning home fully satisfied with his visit which has broken new grounds in the bilateral ties between India and the US and given the much needed impetus to cooperation in the field of infrastructure, particularly road transport, highways and shipping sectors.