The Indian government’s newly formed SPV Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) has started scouting for foreign partners in a bid to converge next generation technologies across infrastructure sectors.
The corporation has already held talks with technical partners in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany and Sweden, before it floats an RFQ (request for quotation) in June to select partners for specific projects. Following the RFQ, the DMICDC would appoint a transaction adviser to finalise a detailed project report and select partners.
While visiting the Volvo Experience Center at Gothenburg in Sweden recently, DMICDC CEO and managing director Alkesh K Sharma told FE that there were opportunities in developing electric and hybrid energy based transportation in the newly conceived eight smart cities across the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, and generating hybrid energy with a mix of solar, biogas, wind and tidal was also a possibility. Such hybrid energy could be transmitted through micro and mini grids in the residential zones of smart cities and DMICDC was weighing those options, he added.
European companies like FOB Biogas, PPAM Solarcraft and Team Maksus were already running mini and micro grid pilot projects with hybrid power in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Volvo has already introduced hybrid and mini buses for the European market. The Indian smart cities could be another market for them if DMICDC agreed to incorporate infrastructure for running hi-tech vehicles. “We will incorporate facilities in our trunk infrastructure to run electric and hybrid buses in the smart cities,” Sharma said after meeting Haken Agnevall, president, Volvo Bus Corporation. MG Gopal, special chief secretary in the Telangana government, who also visited Volvo’s Gothenburg experience center, said there were opportunities to create hi-tech infrastructure in Telangana since the government there would have to start most of the things from scratch.
Sharma said the first phase of developing a smart city and investment region at Dholera in Gujarat was in the offing, entailing an investment of `40,000 crore. The investment would be basically used for creating trunk infrastructure,” Sharma said, adding that the project work would take off through first constructing a `2,300-crore international airport followed by a complete aerotropolis project.
He said DMICDC would source funds from infrastructure financing companies like IFCL and HUDCO. The corporation would also issue land and infra bonds to raise money.
“We are looking at the time frame between now and 2030 and there will be a point of time when we will run into deficit financing. So, we will have to work out a mix of financing options like sovereign funds and external commercial borrowings. But all such financing options will be used for funding the entire $100-billion project which would comprise trunk infrastructure for eight smart city projects across the entire Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor,” Sharma said.
Although Japan government is partnering with the government of India in implementing the project, DMICDC will keep options flexible for participation of foreign partners. “We can make outright offer of land, it can be a leasing model depending on the type of financing the developer is looking at. Even DMICDC can give a hand-holding support to a technological partner by picking up majority stake in certain trunk infrastructure projects,” he added.
At an interactive session with investors at Gothenburg organised by India Unlimited, an initiative of the Indian embassy in Sweden, Telangana special chief secretary Gopal said, in case of selecting technological partners, the Telangana government under its Industries Development Enabling Act can depart from the traditional route of competitive bidding and adopt a process of reverse bidding for unsolicited proposal. “In case the initial proponent matches the best price proposal in the reverse bidding, the initial proponent will be roped in as the qualified bidder,” he said, adding that industrial projects can be started at Telangana through self-certification and online application, which gets clearance in 15 days.
Meanwhile, Akash Passey, Volvo Buses’ vice-president-Business Region International, said Volvo would start exporting India-made buses to Europe this year, initially on a small scale to a select few countries. Earlier, Volvo announced its plan to export India-made buses to Europe in 2015.
(Travel for this report was sponsored by India Unlimited, an initiative of the Indian embassy in Sweden)