India's Eleventh Five Year plan projects a GDP growth of 8.5 percent through a boost to growth in the agriculture sector, improving infrastructure aggressively and encouraging Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for construction and operations of infrastructure services such s highways, airports and ports etc. Continuance of the reform process and emphasis on infrastructure and agriculture augur well for the road transport sector going forward. The country is expected to continue the strong momentum of the past and take the economy back on growth path of around nine per cent.
Accompanying the recent moderation in industrial growth, the performance of some segments of the infrastructure sector such as power generation and movement of railway freight, as also the production of universal intermediates such as steel, cement and petroleum, have shown subdued performance.
ROADS :India has the second largest road network in the world stretching to about3.3 million kms. The roads carry abut 61 per cent of freight and 85 per cent of the passenger traffic. The highways / expressways constitute 66,000 kms and carry around 40 percent of the total road traffic. The government is planning to spend a total of Rs 280,000 crore on developing the infrastructure for a better tomorrow. Out of the total a major chunk has been assigned for road development which would be Rs 160,000 crore. In addition, the National Highway Development Project (NHDP) is at an advanced stage of implementation - the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ - 5,846 kms) connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and the North-south corridor (NSEW - 7,300 kms) - are expected to be completed by December 2009.
For a country of India's size, an efficient road network is necessary both for national integration as well as for socio-economic development. The national highways serve as the arterial network across the country. In its third meeting held on January 13, 2005, the Committee on Infrastructure adopted an action plan for development of the national highways network. An ambitious NHDP, involving a total investment of Rs 220,000 crore till 2012, has been established for the development of these highways.
Institutional Initiatives :Steps are also being taken for restructuring and strengthening of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) which is the implementing agency for the NHP. Institutional mechanisms have been established to address bottlenecks arising from delays in environmental clearance, land acquisition etc. A special focus is being provided for traffic management and safety related issues through the proposed directorate of Safety and Traffic Management.
In order to specify the policy and regulatory framework on a fair and transparent basis, a Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for Public Private Partnership (PPPs) in national highways has been mandated. This will significantly increase the pace of the project awarded as well as ensure an optimal balance of risk and reward among all project participants.
Road Obstacles :In spite of having the second largest road network globally coupled with the share of road freight traffic shooting up from 14 per cent in 1950 to 65 per cent in 2005, the Indian government is finding it difficult to handle the density of highway traffic network in India. Narrow highwaysand poor surface quality resulting in highest lead time is another key constraint However, the government has embedded certain plans pertaining to accessibility for smooth flow of transpiration through projects like GQ and the NS corridor.
Potential :Road development is recognized as an essential step to sustain India's economic growth. For this the government is planning to increase its spend on road development substantially with funding already in place. Several high traffic planning to increase its spend on road development substantially, with funding already in place. Several high traffic stretches have already been awarded to private companies on a Built Operate Transfer (BOT) basis. In addition, two successful BOT models have been prepared - the annuity model and the upfront/lump sum payment model - which is through PPP.
Further, investment opportunities exist in a range of projects being tendered by NHAI for implementing the NHDP - contracts are for construction on BOT basis depending on the section being tendered. A Rs 41,200 crore (US $ 5 billion) project plan to lay six-lane roads over 6,500 kms of national highways on the Design-Building-Finance-Operator (DBFO) basis has been envisaged. The government has also allowed 100 per cent FDI in this sector under the automatic route for road development. That apart, 100 per cent income tax exemption has been given to companies undertaking toad development for a period of 10 years.
PORTS:To keep peace with its GDP growth rate in the next few years, India needs to expedite its port capacity expansion plans. As the global and Indian trade grows at a pace of 12 per cent per annum, congestion at major ports withal depress port performance, unless sufficient port capacity is created. Currently, Indian ports have a capacity of 750 million TPA. In comparison, China has an installed capacity of 5.6 billion TPA. Indian ports are working at much higher capacity utilization as against world standards, wherein capacity is generally pegged at 120 per cent of estimated port traffic to ensure smooth functioning of the port. Currently, most of the ships carrying cargo from East to West break their bulk at Colombo, Hong Kong, or Singapore (this is trans-shipment port - shipment of goods to an intermediate destination before reaching its final port). At present, 80 per cent of the Indian containers are trans-shipped at Colombo, Singapore, and Dubai.
Indian portshandle large quantities of commodities such as crude, iron ore, steel products, fertilizers, food grains and cement. Apart from these electronics, textile, stationery, auto ancillaries, leather and jute products are also transported via ports.
Under the National Maritime Development Program (NMDP), the major thrust is on private sector participation. Hence 66 percent of the total investment outlay is expected to the contributed from the private sector O this, NMDP has expected a total capital expenditure requirement of RS 55,800 crore to expand the existing port capacities. Private players are expected to pump in Rs 34,500 crore, either as operators of container terminals or by forming joint ventures with port authorities. Further, 360 projects have been outlined for all ports put together, including expansion of ports, improvement in hinterland - inland region lying behind a port - connectivity, and deepening of ports (aimed at improving ports statistics). Opening up of this sector for private participation and inducing favorable policies to promote investments will turn out to be the key so successful implementation of the huge capacity expansion project. About 64 percent of the proposed investment in major ports is expected from private players.
Bottlenecks :Inefficiencies at the ports affecting the traffic has been a major reason behind not growing at a reasonable rate and lagging behind in the global race. Although container traffic has grown rapidly at the major ports in India, inefficiencies due to infrastructure bottlenecks still persist. Infrastructure bottlenecks have led to higher dwell time, thus hampering container traffic growth. However, the government has undertaken measures to strengthen regulatory structures of major ports. This includes tariff rationalization and establishment in a phased manner and a corporate structure for existing ports. This step will help to arrest al lot of problems at the ports.
AIRPORTS :Domestic and international air traffic has expanded at a CAGR or 22 per cent and 14 per cent respectively over 2002-07, driven by growth of low-cist carriers and the emergence of India as a business and tourist destination. These figures outstrip government forecasts of a CAGR of 6-7 percent over the same period and have shown up the inadequacies of India's aviationAirport developers are likely to see their projects achieve higher than anticipated capacity utilization n the early years of development. However, higher crude prices are forcing airlines to rationalize air traffic on certain routes and cut down on some short haul flights which could lead to lower traffic growth in the short term.
The business models of Indian airports are on the verge of undergoing a paradigm shift. However, given the current crude scenario this seems to be a distant dream. Around 2005, when the focus shifted to airport modernization, the creeping growth rate of 9 per cent skyrocketed given the expansion capacity plans for airports. However, following the introduction of low cost airlines there was a reason for the air traffic to zoom. Total passenger traffic grew 23 per cent Y-o-Y in FY06, 32 per cent in FY07, and 28 per cent in FY08, A major portion of this growth came from domestic traffic: international traffic also has been accelerating, growing at 14-15 per cent in each of the three periods.
Additionally, 25 more cities are building airports with a participation of private players. Indian private airlines - jet, Sahara, Kingfisher,Deccan, and Spice jet - account for around 60 per cent of the domestic passenger traffic. Some among these have also started international flights are well.
Uncertainty Factors :In addition to traffic growth, returns from airport projects also depended on relevant operation agreements that developoers have with the government and the regulatory framework. Typically, Greenfield projects have returns that are not capped and retain all traffic-linked upsides, while brown field airports have a regulatory cap on returns and a certain degree of subsidization from non-aeronautical revenues. Such regulatory nuances for airport development are still in the nascent stage and there is lack of clarity on various issues.
Outlook and Potential :The passenger traffic in India is likely to grow at a CAGR of over 15 per cent in the next five years (expected to cross 100 million passengers per annum by 2010). The favorable demographics and rapid growth point to a continued boom in domestic passenger traffic and international outbound traffic. With increasing investment and trade activity, international inbound traffic too is expected to grow rapidly. Some of the major growth opportunities lie in modernization/up gradation of metro airports through induction of partners for Chennai and Kolkata. Greenfield airport projects have also been planned and commissioned in resort destinations and emerging metros such as Goa, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Greater Noida, and Kannnur, thereby adding to the growth of the industry.
The Committee on Infrastructure has initiated several policy measures that would ensure time-bound creation of world-class airports in India. A comprehensive civil aviation a policy is on the anvil. An independent Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Bill for economic regulation is also under consideration. The policy of open skies introduced some time ago has already provided a powerful sort in traffic growth the has exceeded 20 percent per annum during the past two years.
Modernization and expansion of the Delhi and Mumbai airports through PPPs Has been awarded, based on a rigorous and transparent competitive bidding and evaluation process. Other major airports such as Chennai and Kolkata are also proposed to be taken up for modernization through the PPP route. Similarly, to ensure balanced airport development around the country, a comprehensive plan for the development of other 35 non-metro airports is also under preparation. These measures are expected to bring a total investment of Rs 40,000 crore for modernization of the airport infrastructure.