?Wish to see infra projects implemented faster?

Interview: Shinya Ejima (JICA chief representative in India)

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is the world?s largest bilateral aid agency and has contributed immensely to the India growth story. As an official development assistance body of Japan, it has contributed to improvement in India?s physical and social infrastructure and played a pivotal role in funding key urban infrastructure projects such as the Delhi Metro and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) projects. The agency feels that it is in everyone?s interest that India registers good economic growth, and hence, has been helping the country initiate projects on poverty reduction, infrastructural growth and environment conservation. It has also funded other projects on water supply, sewerage, forestry, power and agriculture over the past five decades.

JICA?s chief representative in India, Shinya Ejima, in conversation with Timsy Jaipuria and Subhash Narayan shared the vision of the agency for India and talked about the areas where it would like to see more action from the Centre. Excerpts:

What role do you see for JICA in contributing towards infrastructure growth in emerging markets such as India?

India is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world, which has achieved good economic growth over the past two decades. JICA?s assistance in infrastructure development not only directly contributes to Indian society and economy, but also acts as a catalyst for attracting domestic and foreign investments.

Is the organisation focused only on extending funds for projects or does the role go beyond that?

Besides the infrastructure projects that we are funding as official development assistance (ODA) loans,?we are also engaged in several socio-economic projects aimed at benefiting the common man directly. We have provided technical cooperation and given aid besides extending loans for improving drinking water supply projects in different cities, loans for biodiversity conservation and several other projects aimed at human resource development.We have provided technical cooperation, by dispatching experts, providing necessary equipment and training personnel from developing countries in Japan. Technical cooperation with India started in 1966. During the past 40 years, more than 5,000 Indian personnel have participated in training courses in Japan and more than 800 Japanese experts have come to India to offer guidance. Grants have covered various areas like the construction of medical research institutions, providing equipment for educational institutions and supporting the government?s efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis.

The tragic earthquake in 2011 also caused some cuts to the ODA from Japan. Has it impacted funding to India too? What road map do you see for JICA?s increased presence in India?

The quake didn?t impact our funds to India. In fact, the volume of our funding has increased after the 2011 earthquake. India right now is number one recipient of JICA?s ODA?loans. And going forward, as India?s infrastructure needs continue to grow,we see the graph only going up.

What new areas are you looking at funding and providing your expertise?

We have been supporting sectors like transport, energy, water, forestry and agriculture. Apart from these focussed assistance, JICA is extending financial and technical support for the development of industrial corridors: Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC). For DMIC, JICA is in talks with DMICDC CEO, DIPP secretary and the secretaries of various states. For CBIC, we are in talks with the PMO advisor, DIPP secretary, various state government secretaries and central ministries.

How has been your experience in projects such as the dedicated freight corridor being built by the railways? Do you think there is a need for change in the way large infra projects are handled in India?

Our experience has been satisfactory. For instance, the Delhi Metro Project, which is one of the largest infrastructure projects in India, is widely regarded as an example of Japan-India cooperation. The only change that we wish to see is faster implementation of projects.

India has expressed interest in increasing the construction of expressways. If offered, will JICA be interested in funding the expressways?

JICA is open to requests from India. Improvement of transportation network is one of priority areas for JICA?s activities in India and, therefore, if requested, it would consider providing finance to such projects.

Is JICA also interested in construction of infra projects in India?

Yes, JICA is interested in taking forward the role of construction of infra projects in India. These projects have a multiplier impact for any economy and so would be for?India. However, timely implementation is a challenge. In the past five years, with JICA?s cooperation, 4,170 km of highways were constructed or refurbished, 13 airports and ports were constructed or refurbished, and 28 million people were supplied with safe water with wells and other water supply facilities constructed in 48 countries.

What other infrastructure sectors apart from roads and railways attract JICA?s interests. What could be the possible contribution of JICA in the coming years?

JICA has been supporting water supply, sewerage, power plant, and transmission & distribution line projects as well. The organisation is open to funding infrastructure and any other socio-economic project that brings benefit to the common man but the request has to come through the country?s government.??

JICA has also extended funds for the DMIC project. How has been your experience?

The governments of Japan and India, using public-private initiatives, will be developing the DMIC, including industrial areas for supporting economic development in India. For this, a framework has been put in place through Japan-India summits and Cabinet talks. The base of the DMIC framework is the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project whose construction JICA is funding through ODA Loans. Civil construction will start in the next few months.

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First published on: 15-06-2013 at 02:33 IST