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  • The road sector is witnessing an increased pace of project award and completion. The course correction measures taken during the past few years seem to be finally showing results.

  • The length of the projects awarded and constructed increased at a CAGR of over 45 per cent during 2013-14 to 2017-18. Meanwhile, the decline in cost and time overruns has accelerated construction activity.
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  • The hybrid annuity model has met with success mainly due to the government's proactive approach in obtaining all clearances prior to project award.

  • The sector has reported some important developments over the past one year. The key amongst these is the award of the first bundle of toll-operate-transfer (TOT) projects worth Rs 97 billion to Macquarie in March 2018. Further, NHAI's asset recycling plans are expected to attract funds worth about Rs 1.2 trillion in times to come.

  • Another major milestone is the roll-out of Phase I of the Bharatmala Programme, which entails the development of 35,000 km of highways and economic corridors at an investment of about Rs 5.35 trillion.

  • While access to long-term funds continues to be a problem, steps are being taken to create a favourable financial environment. Recently, the ministry listed rupee-denominated masala bonds on the London Stock Exchange. IRB Infrastructure Developers has listed its InvIT. Players like L&T IDPL, MEP Infrastructure Developers and Reliance Infrastructure have also initiated the process of listing their assets under InvITs. Asset sales are gaining traction with players such as ITNL, HCC, NCC, Sadbhav Infrastructure Project, Dilip Buildcon and Gammon offloading stakes in operational as well as under-construction projects.

  • Meanwhile, the ministry continues to explore innovative ways to build capacity and enhance efficiency in the sector. India's first manual on road expansion for scientific planning of highway infrastructure was released recently. Effective technology solutions such as ROMDAS have been introduced for monitoring road conditions. FASTag penetration is at an all-time high and the pan-India deployment of the electronic toll collection system is expected to be completed soon.

  • The government has set tall targets for the next five years, thus creating plenty of opportunities. Mega projects such as Bharat Mala, Setu Bharatam, Char Dham Connectivity, economic corridors and TOT will be the biggest investment drivers in the sector. Overall, about Rs 7 trillion is expected to be invested in the sector over the next five to six years. Meanwhile, road construction in the north-eastern region and the development of rural roads will continue to attract the government's attention.

  • However, given the past experience, land acquisition and obtaining approvals could be a challenge in achieving these targets. Proper project preparation and due diligence are the much-needed steps to ensure that only viable projects are put on the block.

  • The mission of this conference is to highlight the emerging opportunities in the road sector, examine the impact of key policy developments, discuss the key issues and challenges, and showcase the most promising technologies and noteworthy projects. The conference will also provide a platform to industry players, government officials and technology providers to share their experience and exchange ideas.

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