Dakshita Das, former Additional Member Finance, Railways Ministry, said that the highway sector is the main contributor of the transport GDP with its rapid expansion. Das was speaking at BT Brainstorm Budget 2022, along with DG EPTA and former secretary at Government of India Vijay Chhibber, IIFCL MD PR Jaishankar and infrastructure and public policy expert Vaibhav Dange.
Das, while answering a question on how increased capex contributed in terms of contribution of the transport sector to GDP in India, said, “Infrastructure spending is important because it boosts the GDP. So the kind of capex that is envisaged is critical. When the economy is tweaked to the supply side it is very important that infrastructure copes up with higher production values. It has an impact on the transport sector i.e roads, railways and airspace. For transport GDP, which is hovering around 6 per cent, the main contributor is the highway sector that has seen some aggressive and significant expansion.”
Chhibber said that allocation for railways and roads has seen a substantial step up. He pointed out that 50 per cent of the National Infrastructure Pipeline investment is envisaged to come from the private sector. “It is really the private sector that is required to kick in and we need to focus on what needs to be done to bring in more private sector investment,” he said.
“Enough time must be given to prospective bidders to do their due diligence. No point bringing in projects with 2 months' notice,” said Chhibber.
Jaishankar pointed out that IIFCL is the apex institute to lend for infrastructure.
“Even during COVID we were able to show growth but we still need to do a little bit more. Overall demand is picking up and projects are getting back in shape. In 6-7 months, everything should be back. Road sector revenue is back to pre-COVID days. Credit offtake will also grow,” he added.
“PM GatiShakti and a focus on overall infra with a multi-model approach is a key takeaway of this year’s budget. With that focus implementation can take a good pace. Highways has shown it. Railway electrification in the last 3 years is much more startling than last 15-20 years,” said Dange.
Speaking about what could be a game-changer for the railways, Das said, “Vande Bharat is going to be very big, the signalling tech is also going to be a game-changer.”
She said that the railways is aiming for light weight and speedier trains, and to bring in elevated tracks for a boost speed.
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