Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New UK-India group to hasten road building in India

S Kalyana Ramanathan / London February 03, 2010

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath today said a new group styled British India Road Group (BIRG) has been formed to hasten road development projects in India.

The group, which held its first meeting in London yesterday will focus mainly on the construction of major highways and district-level roads. It will comprise major road building contractors from the UK and India.

Kamal Nath was in London to address a conference on infrastructure building in India, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), where he spoke at length about the urgent need to overcome “infrastructure deficit” faced by India. BIRG will involve both CII and CBC in the consultative process in road building in India.

While the role of the new group will be limited to road building, a new memorandum of understanding between the UK and India is being drafted — to be signed in two months — to address the larger road infrastructure related issues like safety, training, licensing and inspection.

The minister, who was on his way back to India from Davos after attending the World Economic Forum, said the entire road construction project would need $40-45 billion (Rs 1.85 lakh crore-Rs 2 lakh crore) over the next four years. He said finding investments for the sector should not be a challenge with attractive revenue models (from toll fee etc) in place.

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