Come and invest in our roads : Kamal Nath

New York, April 9 ( Highlighting India’s plans to achieve a “quantum jump” in building roads and highways that would open a vast rural market, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath has invited foreign companies to participate in this mega-initiative for the country’s growth.

“India’s growth does not threaten, it beckons,” he said in a keynote address at the Global Construction Summit 2010 on “Investing in India’s Infrastructure” here Thursday with an over-300 strong gathering representing major construction and investment companies from all over the world.

The main objective of Nath’s three-day visit to New York was to interact with the US business community to encourage them to participate in India’s infrastructure development in the Road sector through financing, capacity building and supply of advanced technology, services and equipment, officials said.

Speaking about the essentially domestic demand-driven growth of India, he told two groups of CEOs and senior executives representing a mix of US finance, consultancy and investment companies as well as construction and equipment firms about the tremendous opportunities generated by the resurgence of the Indian economy.

“The real potential of India’s growth can be understood only if the median national age of 25 years and the prospective rise in disposable incomes of rural India are superimposed on the strong macro-fundamentals of the economy,” Nath said.

He said that the infrastructure deficit was the principal challenge that had to be overcome to unleash this potential and the government was attaching the highest priority to this area.

Speaking of the gaps in the roads and highways network, Nath said, “We are not building roads for tomorrow, we are catching up with the past.”

He pointed out that through roads, economic activity could be generated in remote rural areas and the Government of India had launched the largest rural roads programme 15 years ago.

The roads and highway ministry was now adopting a “stretch by stretch” approach to bring about connectivity of rural and district roads with the national highways. It was also focusing on technology and capacity building, Nath said urging US companies to collaborate in these fields.

In a lecture Wednesday at the Consulate General of India here, Nath highlighted the emergence of world’s largest young and aspirational society in India, which made it imperative that the infrastructure challenges be met speedily and effectively.