Infrastructure sector, not only is the backbone of an economy, but also plays vital role in India's social and cultural segments. It contributes significantly to the growth of gross domestic product (GDP), while creating opportunities for employment and investment.
The Government of India plays a major role in materialisation of proposed investment plans and acts as a facilitator for formulating investment-friendly policies and in expediting process of clearances and approvals for infrastructural development.
Major sections pertaining to infrastructure include roads, ports, aviation, energy and railways. Some of the recent developments relating to these sub-sectors are stated hereafter.
Indian road network is the second largest in the world with a total length of 4.1 million kilometres (km). As per present estimate given by the highways regulator, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Indian roads carry about 65 per cent of freight and 80 per cent of passenger traffic.
National Highways (NH) constitute 1.7 per cent of the entire network but carry 40 per cent of the traffic on Indian roads. To augment it, the Government plans to build 7, 300 km of roads every year.
For the financial year 2012-13, the ministry and NHAI have awarded road projects of about 1,000 km so far. Together, they awarded 62 projects covering 7,957 km of road projects in 2011-12. This comprised 6,491 km by NHAI (49 projects) and 1,466 km (13 projects) by the ministry through state agencies.
Traversing the length and breadth of the country, Indian railways are the most cost efficient mode of transport and hence enjoy preference over other modes of public transport. The railway service has proven itself as the forerunner in the transport sector as railways are extensively used for passenger and freight transfer. With thousands of railway stations across the country, Indian railway network is the most affordable, convenient and well-connected network.
Indian Railways have generated Rs 19,879 crore (US$ 3.5 billion) of revenue earnings for the first two months of the current fiscal, registering an increase of 20 per cent as against the corresponding period of last year.
While total goods earnings increased 25 per cent from Rs 11,338 crore (US$ 2 billion) during first two months of 2011-12 to Rs 14,150 crore (US$ 2.5 billion) during April-May 2012, total passenger revenue earnings increased by 8.5 per cent, jumping from Rs. 4,550 crore (US$ 796.94 million) in April-May 2011 to Rs. 4,940 crore (US$ 865.24 million) in April-May 2012.
The revenue earnings from other coaching amounted to Rs 505 crore (US$ 88.53 million) during April-May 2012, witnessing an increase of 7.32 per cent. The total number of passenger bookings made showed an increase of 3.33 per cent with 1,381 million passengers booked during April-May 2012 as against 1,336 million during April-May 2011.
Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, has urged to quicken the award of rail contracts. The major ones include contracts for the Sonnagar-Dankuni section of the Dedicated Freight Corridor, elevated rail corridor in Mumbai and locomotive factories in Madhepura and Marhowra.
Mumbai's elevated rail corridor would be the first project to take off, with a total outlay of Rs 20,000 crore (US$ 3.5 billion). The project is expected to be funded through passenger fares and real estate development of the nearby area. Out of the total outlay, 20 per cent of the funding would be through Viability Gap funding (VGF).