Nitin Gadkari is also confident of developing highway projects through the engineering, procurement and construction mode where the government funds the entire project cost.
Holding the previous UPA government responsible for tarnishing the perception of the highway sector to the banking fraternity, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said in the current ‘improved scenario’, bankers should seize the opportunity to invest in the sector.
“Highway sector is the most secured sector. There were serious problems in the previous UPA regime as projects worth `3.85 lakh crore were staring at turning into NPA. The sector has now totally changed. The pace of highway construction has gone up. This is the most opportune time for Indian bankers to invest in the infrastructure sector,” Gadkari said.
The minister, who is scheduled to meet country’s top bankers in Mumbai on Friday, said he would request bankers to invest in the sector. “If they suggest policy changes, we will consider.”
According to a recent Crisil report, banks have become ‘extremely cautious’ and are shying off projects not backed by experienced sponsors with strong financials. It said banks were limiting their exposure to 35%, compared with 70%, in the traditional build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects.
Gadkari, however, said there was no dearth of funds for the highway sector. He is also confident of developing highway projects through the engineering, procurement and construction mode, where the government funds the entire project cost, if banks become reluctant to fund BOT or quasi-BOT projects. Fund is crucial for the sector to achieve the ambitious target of constructing 45 km of highways per day in the current fiscal, compared with 27 km a day was achieved in the previous fiscal.