Private sector crucial for infra development: PM

Mumbai, Jan 10: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday underlined the importance of private sector participation in ushering in rapid infrastructure development and upgradation to ensure the country’s rapid economic growth.

Inaugurating the world-class peacock-themed new Terminal 2 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) here, Manmohan Singh said that infrastructure deficit is considered a serious constraint limiting India’s rapid economic growth and “there is a need to work doubly hard to bridge this deficit”.

“The government alone cannot make the very large investment required to build world-class infrastructure in the country. Therefore, we have been encouraging partnerships with the private sector,” he said.

Stressing the government’s commitment, the prime minister said that it has introduced several policy and regulatory reform measures to encourage the growth of private participation and investment in the sector.

“The decision to allow upto 49 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) by foreign carriers in domestic airlines, in addition to the FDI permissible in airport infrastructure, will help Indian carriers through equity infusion,” Manmohan Singh pointed out.

Reiterating the government’s commitment to improve airport infrastructure through private participation in greenfield airports and public-private-partnership (PPP) in select airports currently run by the Airports Authority of India, Manmohan Singh said that there are plans to develop and operationalise 50 more airports across the country in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

“The success of the T-2 (CSIA) should give a boost to other PPP projects in the country which are under implementation or at the planning stage,” the prime minister noted, citing the Mumbai airport project as an example of the successful execution of large infrastructural projects unde the PPP model.

Expressing happiness at the success of the PPP model, particularly in the civil aviation sector, Manmohan Singh said that five such airports in the country now handle about 57 percent of the total passenger traffic and around 70 percent of the cargo traffic.

Observing that there is immense scope for expansion of the civil aviation sector in the country, he said that compared to the world, the propensity for air travel is currently very low in India.

“Our figure for domestic air trips per person is only about 0.05 per year, compared to 1.8 for USA, 0.25 for Brazil and 0.5 for China. There is, therefore tremendous potential for growth of the civil aviation sector in the country,” the prime minister said.

Acknowledging the need for better infrastructure to seve the country’s financial and entertainment capital, Manmohan Singh said that all pending issues concerning the proposed new international airport in Navi Mumbai have been resolved and the centre and state governments are moving ahead with the work.

Expected to be thrown open to the public next month, the work on CSIA-T2, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), started in 2007.

It is a state-of-the-art four-level integrated passenger terminal spread over nearly 4.50 million square feet – making it larger than London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, but smaller than New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The T-2 has 188 check-in counters, 60 immigration counters for departing passengers and 76 for incoming fliers and a 200,000 square foot retail area.

The CSIA T-2 has a vertical layout in tune with the space constraints in Mumbai – operating from 1,500 acres compared to the 5,100 acres of IGI and 5,400 acres of Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

With T-2, CSIA’s annual passenger handling capacity is expected to increase from 32 million to 40 million.

The T-2 has an art wall named ‘Jaya He’ and artefacts occupy around 80,000 square feet in the departure area and curve along the contours of the building, with delicately-carved doorways, decorative torans, terracotta horses, lamps, wooden temple chariots, masks, bows of snake boats, mythical creatures and other figures.

Currently the second largest in the country in terms of passenger handling (30.2 million) and largest in terms of cargo handling (635,000 tonnes), the Mumbai International Airport Ltd is a public-private joint venture between AAI and the GVK-led consortium.

IANS