Right time for pvt participation in infra: Haldea
Gajendra Haldea, Principal Advisor, (Infrastructure) Planning Commission of India, has remarked that the time is right for increased private participation in the country’s infrastructure development. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the National Conference on Infrastructure held at the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC).
“The frustration faced by infrastructure development companies in previous decades, due to the Indian Government’s inability to efficiently roll out and award infrastructure projects, is now a thing of the past,” he asserted. “Post-liberalization, the administration’s mindset was opposed to yielding control over infrastructure, which is basically a public good. The private sector was not adequately enabled to participate in infrastructure building, and therefore supply lagged behind demand in every infrastructure segment. In the past five years, however, simplification and standardization of Model Concession Agreements and bidding processes has made India one of the best places for infrastructure investment and private participation,” he explained, giving an overview of the country’s infrastructure scenario.
The full-day conference on ‘Inclusive Growth- Role of Private Sector Participation in Infrastructure’ was jointly organized by IMC’s Economic Research & Training Foundation and Consulting Engineering Services (India) Pvt. Ltd. Besides Haldea, the inaugural session was addressed by Prof SS Chakraborty, CMD, Constructing Engineering Services (India) Pvt Ltd. Earlier, reading out the special message sent by Organizing Committee Chairman Deepak Parekh, Chief of HDFC, IMC President Gul Kripalani said, “If India were to scale up infrastructure spending to levels seen in China, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) could make a major contribution to closing the investment and service delivery gaps in infrastructure.”
Prof. Chakraborty stressed the key role of micro-infrastructure and micro-finance in enhancing the inclusiveness of economic growth. “For our growth to percolate to every section of society, we must attract private capital and participation to providing basic amenities at the doorsteps of the marginalized people in distant villages,” he said. “Along with focusing on six-laning of highways, let us think of expanding the lower order roads such as district roads through PPP. Land acquisition for expansion of highways typically takes 10-12 years, whereas district and village roads can get started immediately,” he added. Professor Chakraborty spoke at length about inclusive infrastructure and pointed out that investments in micro-irrigation would have a great multiplier effect on per capita incomes of villagers, besides agricultural output and GDP growth. “Through such measures, we must ensure that there is growth of farm produce.
Unless agricultural and industrial output grows substantially, leading to increased highway traffic, there may be a deficit in toll collection, thereby making them unviable in the long run,” he cautioned.