| time to pack the bags for a long drive
New Delhi, Feb 28: In an attempt to give major thrust to the infrastructure sector, finance minister Jaswant Singh today announced Rs 60,000 crore worth of project for roads, railways, ports and airport sectors.
The government has allocated an initial contribution of Rs 2,000 crore a year for the project on a flow basis in the medium term to be realised from the railway and government budgets. Singh has termed physical infrastructure as his second of the 'panch priorities'.
”There is simply no alternative to providing quality roads, rail roads, ports, airports, reliable and reasonably priced power supply, safe drinking water and sanitation,” said Singh
Presenting his maiden budget for the financial year 2003-04, Singh announced 48 new road projects covering 10,000 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore. These projects will be over and above the NHDP project currently underway.
These projects would be funded on a build-operate-and transfer (BOT) basis. The government will provide a subsidy in the form of an annuity flow to meet not only the shortfall between anticipated revenue and loan repayment liabilities.
He also announced four-laning at least 3,000 kilometre routes. While the North-South-East-West Corridor under National Highway Development Project would be funded through the additional levy of cess of 50 paise per litre on diesel and motor spirit.
The rural roads project under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana will receive additional funds from through the proposed additional cess on diesel of 50 paise. The government has already allocated Rs 2,325 crore for the project.
In order to provide an impetus to the railways, the government has announced a Rs 3,000 crore equity support and Rs 5,000 crore loan to the National Rail Vikas Yojana. The Railway ministry has announced setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to undertake projects worth Rs 8,000 crore in Golden Quadrilateral route connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai.
This SPV will also raise debt from the market and the repayment will be earmarked over the period of amortisation. The Railway will also simultaneously undertake the safety upgradation programme in the GQ.
The government will develop the Delhi and Mumbai airports as the principal hubs of international travel to India. Two separate companies will be formed with initial equal equity participation from Airports Authority. These two companies may also invite joint venture partners for the project and on completion the management will be leased out. The government has already taken an initiative to lease out the Bangalore and Hyderabad airports to two private companies.
The government proposes to launch a comprehensive modernisation work at Jawaharlal Nehru Ports Trust (JNPT), Navi Mumbai and Cochin Port aimed to meet the international standards. JNPT and Cochin ports need dredging and modernisation and is expected to cover more than Rs 7,500 crore.
The user charges levied by the two port authorities and the additional custom flowing in after dredging and modernisation has been completed and are expected to cover the debt service obligations.