Business Affair

Infrastructure poised to take a giant leap

Infrastructure poised to take a giant leap

The 6th edition of the ET Infra Focus Summit in New Delhi witnessed convergence of ministers, industrialists, policymakers and thinkers, who discussed and formulated holistic solutions for key infrastructural tests that lie ahead.


“India has all the potential to become a developed nation and it cannot happen only by political support, but a collaborated effort from all the sectors. Roadmap for any project is important but execution is imperative,” said Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Minister for State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Chemical & Fertilisers at the opening session.


The summit centred on the theme ‘Transition towards Futuristic and Resilient Infrastructure’ and provided opportunities for the stakeholders to meet policymakers, understand the needs and demands of nations, opportunities that lie ahead and scope of new businesses. It also facilitated discussions on the credible solutions and opportunities that will be valuable for both public and private sector organisations.


“The summit offered an opportunity to get clarity on future needs to provide tangible inputs for policy planners and participants,” said Satish Mandhana, Managing Director & Head of Investments, Eversource Capital.


Shailesh Pathak, Chief Executive Officer, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects said, “India is poised to become the third largest economy in the world by 2030. As early as in the next 12 years, India shall overtake France, UK, Germany and Japan, with only USA and China ahead of us. This economic growth will necessarily require better infrastructure, and in turn will lead to even more urban infrastructure. With PPPs for operational urban infrastructure assets, a lot is possible for India’s 53 million-plus cities and other urban areas.”


The sessions also focused on how to bridge the infrastructure investment gap, delayed clearances, address issues of not so resilient PPP models, create sustainable projects and encourage international private financing.


Infrastructure development is one of the top agendas for the government that has already announced grand schemes. India’s infrastructure development has already cleared many bottlenecks and legacy issues, but the country has miles to go in terms of infrastructure funding, energy infrastructure besides other critical to the sector digital.


Bharatmala Pariyojana project aims to bring down logistics cost from 18 per cent to 6 per cent with multimodality transport, said NN Sinha, Managing Director, National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). The project is a pan-nation scheme to improve the road network in the country. The government is working to improve connectivity in the North-east region and make it a hub for northeast corridor by integrating with neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.


The government is expanding airports in major cities to create a high-end infrastructure and improve connectivity. “The future solution lies in developing second airports in cities,” said Guruprasad Mohapatra, Chairman, Airport Authority of India.


On the potential of infrastructure sector, Rohit Modi, CEO, Essel Ifra & Smart Cities, Essel Infra, said, ”It’s infinite but on another level the growth potential for infrastructure is that of limitless opportunities for the resilient and the faithful, but unknown and full of pitfalls for the weak-hearted,”


Modi added, “Our per capita income has to grow 20 times. Indian economy has to plan to be a 50 trillion dollar economy. It is for us to decide ‘when’ and ‘how’ we reach there. It will not happen in a hurry, unless we dramatically alter the pace and quantum of infrastructure investment, along with associated improvements in health, education and embracement of technology, which shall then determine the pace and timing of when we become 50 trillion dollar economy.”


Infrastructure is open to advancements in technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.  SN Subrahmanyan, CEO & MD, L&T said, “The objective of digital transformation at L&T Construction is to utilise the power to new and emerging technology to make very significant improvement to our business. We are committing significant investments of money and talent to this digital effort and the savings we expect to generate will be substantial, multiple times of investments that we make.” L&T Infrastructure Development Projects has developed marquee urban infrastructure PPP projects for over two decades. The company is leveraging AI, IoT and Blockchain wherever possible. L&T construction sites, machines and equipment are fully IoT equipped and networked with sensors and receptors, for monitoring construction progress and cost control. AI is used to improve efficiency and utilisation levels for all projects.


Through sustained effort for ‘Less-Cash India’, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) through RFID Tags or FASTags for NHAI highways has doubled over the last one year, and is currently at about 25 per cent of overall collections. This would go up to above 50 per cent in the next five years. Over 4,00,000 vehicles pass through L&T IDPL’s 38 toll plazas across eight Indian states. The company is into Big Data analytics to study seasonal variations, user preferences and behaviour, and consequent impact on the toll revenue. It is presently evaluating blockchain technologies for seamless procurement. Going digital is the key to growth and development.


The event was an attempt to discuss the opportunities and find ways to shape dreams of resilient India.

Sonali Chowdhury
Assistant Editor