India, UK sign MoU for road transport & highways
India and UK have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the road transport and highways sector. As part of the MoU, both the countries would engage in consultations and will exchange information and best practices in the areas of motor vehicle testing, driver training and delivering and maintaining of highway networks. The MoU was signed by Kamal Nath, Minister of Road Transport and Highways and his British counterpart Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond, Secretary of State, Department of Transport, UK in London.
During his visit to London, Nath also addressed a Round Table session on highway infrastructure organised jointly by CII and Confederation of British Industries. The Minister urged the financial institutions to diversify their investments and also invest in the equity of the road construction companies in India. He informed the participants about the rapid progress made in the highways development programme during the first year of the government with the award of 118 projects for a length of 7,500 km.
He said that the financial closures of the awarded projects have either been achieved or is in the advanced stages of achievement. By the end of March 2011, 22,000 km of work will be in progress. Talking about the positive business environment in the country, he said that the issues raised by different stake-holders in the tender procedures and process of financial closure have been addressed, the remaining ones are also being looked into. “The capacity building process is being also addressed. Road construction has covered far flung areas like the North-Eastern States. The growth in the automobile sales in India has increased by 37% as a result of increase in the disposable incomes in the families in the rural and urban areas,” Nath said. The Minister called upon the financial institutions in the UK to fund the road construction activities in India.
Nath also met Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skill and discussed ways at deepening the economic engagement and investments in the Highway sector. The Minister also held a meeting with members of British India Roads Group (BIRG). The group expressed keen interest in participating in India’s National Highway Development Programme. During the discussions, members of BIRG made suggestions for bringing about changes in the areas of financing, procurement, concession, engineering design, construction and operation & maintenance. At the meeting, it was decided to hold an interactive workshop to discuss various suggestions made by members of BIRG in New Delhi in December 2010 / January 2011. The workshop will see the participation of members of BIRG and all stakeholders including Government officials, concessionaries, contractors, consultants, financers etc.