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September - 2009 - issue > India Road Ahead
Indian Infrastructure Sector - Paving the Way for Tomorrow’s Growth
Anil Seth
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The Infrastructure sector in India is traversing through one of its most interesting phases today. If we look at our growth pattern over the past few years, we will realize how important it is for a country to have a strong infrastructure to enable growth and development. It’s imperative that the nation prepares itself for the future and the next anticipated growth curve. I am happy with the fact that our government is pro-development and will look into the issue with utmost concern and expedite the necessary initiatives.

Infrastructure projects, such as urban public transport systems like metros, expressways, superior quality highways, flyovers, and world class airports will enable us achieve our dreams – however, these projects need to be envisioned with a long term perspective.

There is a huge opportunity for other allied sectors to participate in the infrastructure sector’s growth across India. A huge gap in demand and supply of power, additionally plagued by the losses in transmission and distribution provides an opportunity to augment this requirement. We would need to up the power generation as well as make sure that proper transmission and distribution systems are in place so that the AT&C losses, theft, and pilferage could be minimized.

Opportunities in water and environmental engineering are immense. Investment of Rs. 2.3 trillion ($55 billion) is proposed for water resource management in the eleventh five year plan. Moreover, India’s water market is one of the largest in the world, with approximately one-third of the total estimated value dedicated for water provisioning, one-third for municipal water treatment, and the remaining one-third for industrial water treatment. The overall annual growth rate is 15-20 percent, with the drinking water and industrial segments growing even more rapidly. India’s urban water demand is expected to double and its industrial demand triple by 2025. The PPP model will be crucial to accelerate growth and increase output and efficiencies in this sector. In addition to this, we also need more foreign collaborations so that we can replicate models that have worked elsewhere in the world after suitable customization to Indian conditions. Also, integrated solutions are the need of the hour. We need to ensure the clients engage with one single partner for construction, operation, maintenance, and management to ensure ownership. Important steps to accelerate infrastructure growth in our country are initiatives such as public-private-partnership, a long term contractual partnership between private and public sector agencies, specifically financing, designing, implementing, and operating infrastructure facilities.

Similarly, the road networks across the country need to be expanded and the existing networks need to be overhauled, so that our nation can race ahead on the fast lane of growth.

India needs a large amount of investment in coming years for upgradation and modernization of its existing infrastructure and for creation of new marvels like the Bandra-Worli Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in Mumbai.

We also need to uplift the standard of living of the population in the country. A healthy population will lead the nation on the road to development. Along with urbanization, steps need to be taken to ensure environmental protection too. We need to step up the projects pertaining to renewable energy and water conservation to ensure a sustainable development.

The Union Budget 2009 has sent the right signals to the infrastructure industry and should provide the necessary fillip to accelerate the overall growth and development in the country. The government has stated that bottlenecks for speedy implementation of infrastructure projects will be removed to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to this sector.

Allocation for the National Highways Development Programme being increased by 23 percent, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission by 87 percent, and Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme by 160 percent are a definite welcome signal from the government for renewed growth across the board. Rajiv Awas Yojana, the new program aimed at making the country slum free in the next five years by providing hygienic dwellings to the urban poor is a progressive initiative.

On the whole, we will be seeing a lot of activity in the infrastructure sector in the near future.

The author of the article is Anil Seth, Chairman, Subhash Projects and Marketing
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