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Infrastructure Sector in India

May, 2014

Introduction

India's planning commission has projected an investment of US$ 1 trillion for the infrastructure sector during the 12th Five Year Plan, with 40 per cent of the funds coming from the private sector. India's focus on infrastructure over the last decade made the country the second fastest growing economy in the world. India's constant growth gives investors a tremendous opportunity in the transportation and power segments.

A strong infrastructure sector is vital to the development of a country's economy. Here, the Indian government has played a major part by liberalising foreign direct investment (FDI) norms. Also, it has taken up large-scale infrastructure ventures such as the Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor, for which it collaborated with Japan.

Roads

Mr Oscar Fernandes, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, has launched the country's first integrated National Transport Portal 'www.busindia.com'. The Minister said that the portal will help address the need for a common web platform through which users can plan their bus travel.

The Jaipur City Transport Service limited (JCTSL) will be introducing double buses and battery operated buses in the city. The move was taken to promote green technology and attract passengers to use public transport more frequently. Trained drivers will be hired and special routes fixed for these new buses.

Railways

Indian Railways carried 677.58 million tonnes of commodity-wise freight traffic during April 1–November 30, 2013, an increase of 4.72 per cent on the previous year's 647.01 million tonnes.

The Railways also received 22 National Energy Conservation awards from a total of 112 during 2013, out of 829 applicants. The number of awards the Railways received is the highest of any organisation. The awards are decided by the 'Award Evaluation Committee' under the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)/Ministry of Power, and are based on approved evaluation criteria.

Ports

L&T Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of engineering giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T), has received a repeat order from a Qatar-based organisation for six specialised commercial vessels that are valued to be around US$ 154 million. L&T stated that the ships' design would conform to the latest marine environment and crew accommodation regulations. The vessels are designed for carrying hazardous cargo like methanol.

The Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) has evaluated five proposals in the Port Sector. These projects will now be recommended for grant of final approval by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). The projects are expected to be awarded in the current fiscal by various Major Ports for implementation, under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

Power

“India is witnessing a revival of interest in investments, especially of international operators and investors from the Middle East, Europe and Japan, especially in the areas of renewables, conventional power generation (with advanced construction stage or operational) and electrical equipment,” according to Mr Sambitosh Mohapatra, an executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt Ltd.

After many months of negotiations, French energy powerhouse, GDF Suez is on the verge of buying a controlling interest in a power plant owned by Hyderabad-based Meenakshi Energy. This signals a revival in global investments in India's power industry, and marks GDF's much awaited entry into the country's power sector.

Aviation

India is one the fastest growing aviation markets, which currently stands as the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world, according to Mr KN Shrivastava, India's Civil Aviation Secretary. India's aviation sector is projected to be the third largest aviation market globally by 2020.

At present, India's aviation market caters to 117 million domestic and 43 million international passengers. Over the next decade that market could touch 337 million domestic and 84 million international passengers.

Infrastructure in India: Key Developments

The World Bank is in consultations with the ministries of finance and new and renewable energy for funding solar projects under phase II of the National Solar Mission. “The World Bank is really impressed with the performance of phase I of the National Solar Mission,” according to Mr Ashish Khanna, lead energy specialist. The required funds will be around Rs 80,000 crore (US$ 12.9 billion). Up to Rs 54,000 crore (US$ 8.7 billion) will be debt based on a 70:30 debt equity ratio. The World Bank has stated that it is keen on partially financing the debt requirement.

Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure has bagged a bid along with a partner in the Philippines to expand an international airport in the Southeast Asian country. GMR will partner Philippines-based Megawide Construction Corporation in a 40:60 joint venture. The Megawide-GMR consortium won the bid by a slim margin over another conglomerate.

UK-based construction equipment maker JC Bamford Excavators Ltd is ready to increase its product portfolio in India to cater to the export and domestic market. JC Bamford is adding manufacturing capability, in an effort to make India a key manufacturing hub for fully-built equipment, engines and parts. India is today a strategic location for its potential and to serve markets such as Malaysia and South Africa, said Mr Anthony Bamford, Chairman of JC Bamford.

India's first monorail service will start in Mumbai early next year. The mass transport system comprises several air-conditioned rakes that operate on an elevated corridor. In the first phase, it will be ferrying passengers between Chembur and Wadala; in the second phase, it will be transporting passengers between Wadala and Jacob Circle in central Mumbai. Upon completion of the two phases, the corridor will be the second longest in the world. The Mumbai corridor, which will have 17 stations, is estimated to cost around Rs 2460 crore (US$ 396.8 million).

Government Initiatives

State-owned NTPC Ltd has started filling up the reservoir of its first hydro power project, the 800-Megawatt (Mw) Koldam project in Himachal Pradesh. The 163-metre reservoir will most likely be filled in the next 11 months and the project could be commissioned during the next financial year. “Koldam project, with four units of 200 Mw each, will provide peaking capacity to the Northern Grid and generate 3,054-Gw-hour electricity annually,” the company stated.

To enhance the flow of resources to the sector, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed holding companies and core investment companies to raise resources through the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route. The RBI specified that the business activity of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) should be in the infrastructure sector. ECB for the SPV can be taken up to three years after the SPV's commercial operations date.

An investment of Rs 50,000 (US$ 806) on a rooftop solar plant will save the domestic electricity consumer Rs 9,200 (US$ 148) a year — according to the Tamil Nadu government. The Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA), the renewable energy development arm of the State Government, has set the cost of a 1 kW solar rooftop system at Rs 100,000 (US$ 1613). The investor needs to bring in only Rs 50,000 (US$ 806) of that amount, with the rest being paid by the Indian government and the Tamil Nadu government.

Road Ahead

The future of the Indian infrastructure sector is filled with potential, as attested by the following.

Air transport (including air freight) in the country attracted FDI worth US$ 456.84 million in the period April 2000–July 2013, according to data released by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

The Railways segment generated Rs 59069.73 crore (US$ 9.5 billion) of revenue earnings from commodity-wise freight traffic in the period April 1–November 30, 2013, which is an increase of 7.91 per cent on last year's Rs 53923.37 crore (US$ 8.7 billion).

India's port sector is also poised to mark great progress in the coming years. It is projected that by the end of 2017, port traffic will amount to 943.06 million tonnes (mt) for India's major ports and 815.20 mt for its minor ports.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.01613 as on December 30, 2013

References:Media Reports, Press Releases, Press Information Bureau, Department of Industrial Policy and promotion (DIPP).