Gadkari urges industry to cash in on new expressway projects

New Delhi: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday urged industry players to cash in on the huge potential that 22 upcoming express highways hold in the areas of alternative fuel, electric highway and charging stations.

The Road Transport, Highways and MSME Minister said that projects specially about Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai express highway can offer instant right of way to players interested in setting up LNG stations, electric charging stations or petrol pumps.

Addressing a conference on 'Future Fuels for Transportation' by FICCI, the minister said plans were afoot to set up 2,000 petrol pumps, including LNG.

We are building 22 new express highways including Delhi-Mumbai Express Highway. Work on seven out of 22 projects have started and these have huge potential for the industry. If players want to come forward, we can offer right of way especially on Delhi-Mumbai Express Highway which we plan to complete within three years," the minister said.

Gadkari said plans are on for an electric highway stretch on Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and the land acquisition for over Rs 1 lakh crore expressway project has been completed.

He said he will be visiting Sweden next month to see E-Highways and welcomed players for investments to convert highways into e-highways.

He also said: "The RBI has assured us that they will allow us to take infrastructure loans for 30 years. So if a bankable project is for 30 years, the loan amount will be raised within 13-18 years. There will be two years moratorium period after completion of project. When after three years, toll collection starts then we will open an escrow account. Specific amount will be deposited in this escrow account."

The minister said at present NHAI has 480 such secure, bankable projects and five more banks are willing to give loans like the SBI gave.

"Depending upon traffic, we will keep depositing money in the escrow account, he said.

He said NHAI 's annual income for the current fiscal will be Rs 40,000 crore and it will reach Rs 1 lakh crore in coming years.

He also said that mid-career training is likely to be made mandatory for highway engineers for getting promoted to higher levels.

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