Nitin Gadkari: will raise funds from small investors for road projects; not interested in foreign investment: Gadkari

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday that the government would not receive money from foreign investors to build infrastructure projects like roads, and would instead raise funds from retail investors willing to put Rs 1 lakh for an assured return of 8% per annum. The minister said a Rs 8,000 crore project to build roads on bridges over level crossings in towns and villages is also underway, but the announcement will be made after the budget.

Gadkari said his department was carrying out works worth more than Rs 5 lakh crore a year and added that foreign investors were now rushing to invest in Indian road projects, but clearly indicated a lack of interest on his part to s ‘to hire.

“I don’t want to enrich (more) the rich, but I will collect money from farmers, farm workers, gendarmes, employees and government employees,” said Gadkari, at an event organized by Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

Gadkari said the plan entails a minimum investment of Rs 1 lakh from each small investor which will be earmarked for a specified road project and ensures a return of 8% per annum with sovereign guarantee against 4.5-5% earned on bank deposits.

The investment proposal is pending with capital markets regulator Sebi and once their approval is received, the same will be launched, Gadkari said.

He said that over the years many foreign investors like Australian Macquarie or Canadian retirees have invested in India but now it is essential for us to raise funds on our own.

Recalling a case where a foreign investor refused to invest in a round of Rs 1,500 crore masala bonds a few years ago, the Union Minister said the same entities were now moving towards the investments and added that a few days ago an investor approached him offering to invest up to Rs 5,000 crore.

“Usually I give them (foreign investors) tea and say thank you,” the Union minister said.

Gadkari said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is currently raising loans at very competitive rates of 5.75 or 5.85 per cent and currently has two banks competing with loan offers of Rs 25,000 crore.

The minister listed a slew of projects underway – including the Delhi-Mumbai controlled-access highway which will be open to traffic in a year’s time – and said he saw no shortage of funds in a foreseeable future.

The Delhi-Mumbai highway will also be extended to nearby JNPT, the country’s largest container port, and a Rs 660 crore tiered intersection is planned at Panvel, he said.

Ongoing projects will reduce distances, travel time, pollution and also fuel, and help the economy, he said.

Gadkari said alternative fuels such as ethanol, liquefied natural gas and green hydrogen should be used the most to save hard currency, reduce pollution and also help domestic industry and sugar producers. .

Probably referring to the interests of the Essar group of companies, Gadkari said a brother of Prashant Ruia showed him two LNG-powered trucks in Nagpur a few days ago, which will save up to 60% on running costs after installation of an LNG kit costing Rs. 8 lakh and its cost can be recovered in 295 days.

Admitting that the lower calorific value of ethanol is low, Gadkari said a team of Russian scientists who have created a part to increase efficiency are currently in India and have met with the oil secretary and the president of the ‘Indian Oil Corporation before visiting the facilities in Faridabad.

Gadkari said he planned a logistics park in Sangli which has a concrete road with industrial infrastructure on either side. The road will allow planes to land and hence logistics costs will be reduced for users, he said.

The minister said Japanese car major Toyota had sent a car that runs on green hydrogen, which is extracted from water, but could not get it out because there is no green hydrogen.

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