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Govt saved Rs 3 lakh crore loans to road sector turning into NPAs: Gadkari

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The NDA government has managed to save Rs. threelakh crore worth bank loans to the road sector turning into NPAs, according to the minister of road transport and highways and shipping Mr. Nitin Gadkari.

Lamenting the lack of bank’s support for the funding of road projects and delays in financial closures, Mr. Gadkari said his ministry would seek newer avenues for funding. In this regard, he revealed that NHAIgoing public to raise funds is under process. The minister however, did not reveal details of the plan. Such a move will help the infrastructure projects to source resources from capital market, he said.

“There are no constraints in raising funds, we are capable of generating resources through innovative ways such as taking NHAI to public’, Mr. Gadkari said addressing a session on Infrastructure , Ports, Inland Water Ways & Logistics at the annual convention Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), the apex body promoting bilateral ties and fostering economic engagement between India and USA,

Mr. Gadkari said around 403 projects with a banking system exposure of Rs. Three lakh crore were stalled when the NDA government came to power in 2014. The government managed to revive most of these projects, thus saving Rs.3 lakh crore from turning into stressed assets. The government terminated projects worth Rs.500 lakh crore to set an example for those delay the projects. Currently, there is not a single stalled road project, the minister claimed.

The Union Minister emphasized that all bottlenecks pertaining to land acquisition, environment and forest clearances and other bureaucratic hurdles have been removed and urged private investment in the sector.

It is not only investment but we are looking for innovative technology from the investors, Mr. Gadkari said, adding that the US companies can bring technologies that are efficient and cost-effective. In this regard, he flagged areas like ethanol based fuel efficient equipment; smart technologies for swift urban transport etc. can be marketed in India to reduce the huge import bill, adding that the government is toying with the idea of Uber type of concept for auto rickshawsrunning on clean energy.

He said priority should be given waterways transport, railways and then road for environment friendly and cost effective modes of transport. “The cost of moving men and materials through inland water is only a fraction of what that it would take haulage through rail and road. The government is presently considering several such projects including cruises to organically link inland transport with tourism.

Referring to the Sagarmala project, where the government would invest Rs 6 lakh crore over the years, the minister said that industrial clusters will be set up near ports to help reduce transaction cost since transportation charges for domestic and international movements can be brought down. He also referred to the steps taken by the government in linking surface transport, railways and waterways to make the movement of goods faster.

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