Sougata Roy sees 'green shoots' in West Bengal economy
Kolkata, Feb 12 : Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Sougata Roy on Tuesday said though West Bengal is suffering resource crunches, he can see 'green shoots' in the state's economy.
Leaders from every segment of the infrastructure and construction industry shared insights at Infra East 2012, an initiative by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Eastern Region in its pursuit of Building a Better India.
Roy, who is Adviser to Chief Minister on Infrastructure and Industry, West Bengal, said though the state is saddled with a number problems including resource crunch, he still sees 'green shoots' in West Bengal economy.
"Due to its proximity to the iron and steel mines, the state enjoys a clear advantage," he said.
According to him, Kolkata is the only big city in India "where one finds a successful satellite township", while West Bengal is among a very few states where power is surplus.
Health initiatives by the state government, including a Health City near Burdwan, will spur health tourism in Bengal, said the former Union Minister of State for Urban Development.
Roy also revealed that he has suggested the development of an Infrastructure Development Corporation in West Bengal.
He went on to list some upcoming projects - development of the state highways under the State Highway Development Corporation, development of a deep sea port, etc.
A new airport is also coming up near Andal where coal bed methane has been found, he said.
Roy also underscored the need for innovative financing schemes for infrastructure development in a resource-strapped state like West Bengal and strongly backed the PPP model which made the Second Hooghly Bridge possible.
The MP lamented that barring a few solid waste management projects, the private sector's participation in the urban infrastructure development is not quite significant yet.
It has to play a greater role to play in infrastructure development, Roy said.
However, Roy said the government under the JNNURM has taken up some urban infrastructure development projects, which include 1.5 million housing units.
"Major developments by government include metro railway system in many of the cities including in PPP model in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Many airports are coming up across the country in PPP mode," he said.
M V Satish, Head, L and T Construction, said there is a huge need strengthen urban infrastructure. By 2030 Delhi and Mumbai will grow much bigger in size - even bigger than the current size of Saudi Arabia and Malayasia respectively. Building the required infrastructure is an imperative.
However, several issues need to be resolved, he said. At least Rs 63 trillion in capital and Rs 53 trillion in operational cost is needed, he added.
Satish also stressed the need for better planning and the nation must ensure transparency and speedy clearances.
Satish listed a few requirements, including skilled manpower, political will, government planning, amendment to Land Acquisition Bill and PPP models.
Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Executive Director, Indian Infrastructure Finance Corporation, highlighted the need for state support in building infrastructure projects.
He also spoke of the need for developing the bond market to ensure long-term financing of infrastructure projects, particularly in transport system that takes a long time to break even.
He dwelt upon the credit enhancement mechanism introduced by IIFC that helps enhance the credit worthiness of projects through a guarantee scheme.
Adesh Jain, National President, Project Management Associates, called for better project management to reduce resource requirements.
In his view, transitional economies lose a major part of their resources owing to poor planning and delays in making decisions and ensuring deliveries.
P K Malhotra, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, said the first impressions of DPR goes a long way in faster clearances of financing with better terms and conditions.
He also stressed the need for Infrastructure Debt Fund to finance long-term projects.
R K Agrawal, Chairman, CII Eastern Region, also spoke at the conference.
Saugat Mukherjee, Regional Director, CII Eastern Region, was present.