Infrastructure
The period 2009-10 has turned out to be a year of recovery for India. The momentum in the infrastructure sector has also picked up. While infrastructure financing has grown substantially, there is little long-term financing available for infrastructure. During the year, various steps were taken towards enhancing the supply, lowering the cost and increasing the tenor of funds for the infrastructure sector.

Fund raising for infrastructure through IPOs reached a new high, 20% higher than the previous record in 2007-08. The power sector accounted for about 90% of the funds raised via IPO during 2009- 10. The overall subscription figures were high for most issues, reflecting strong demand. In addition, several companies relied on the faster and cheaper financing mechanism of Qualified Institutional Placements (QIPs), raising a total of Rs. 7500 crore.


Telecom

The subscriber base continued to grow buoyantly, with close to 20 million wireless subscribers being added in a month. During the course of the year, there were new entrants into the sector such as Uninor, Videocon and STel, taking the total number of operators to 15.


Cutthroat competition in the domestic market has led players to diversify into overseas markets for growth. Bharti Airtel commenced operations in Sri Lanka and also acquired a 70 percent stake in Warid Telecom. There were other talks carried out as well, including with 'MTN' who both Bharti, and Reliance Communications could not close on.


Going forward, competition will increase after the introduction of 3G and mobile number portability (MNP). The 3G bidding has been aggressive due to a limited number of spectrum slots.

Energy

The power sector continued to be characterized by shortages, with the peak and energy deficit of power recorded at over 13% and 10%, respectively. Capacity addition in 2009-10 was 9585 MW, the highest ever. The private sector played a major role in this by adding 45% of the capacity last year.


To realize the full potential of the increase in generation capacity two important barriers need to be addressed. The first barrier is that of fuel availability. The second and perhaps more important issue is the financial viability of the distribution business.


The GoI has also announced the creation of a regulator for the Coal, Natural Gas, and Renewable Energy (including Solar technology) sector. With an increasing number of private players participating in the coal mining business, the need for an independent regulator has long been felt necessary for creating a level playing field in the sector. However, the functional effectiveness of the regulatory authority will critically depend on what kind of jurisdiction it is given.


Transportation


  • Civil Aviation: On the back of the strong revival in the Indian economy, the domestic air carriers have seen an improvement in demand reflected in higher capacity utilization levels. Passenger load factors (PLFs) for nine major domestic carriers increased from 64% in January 2009 to 75% in January 2010, which contributed to a significant improvement in their operating income in the third quarter of FY 2009-10.
    Capacity expansion and up gradation at four of the top six airports, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai (which account for over half the country's passenger traffic) is being undertaken to relieve the heavy congestion and accommodate future traffic. A newly functioning regulatory authority, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has been set up to determine ADF and passenger service fee, tariffs for aeronautical services, and monitor and set performance standards.
  • Ports: The growth in the sector was almost entirely led by the private sector. The share of non-major ports (which are almost all private) in the traffic handled increased significantly from 27% in FY2008-09 to 32% in FY2009-10. The private sector is also playing a dominant role in containerization which, in turn, has helped increase the container penetration at major ports. The draft Major Ports Regulatory Act, 2009 (MPRA), is under public consultation.
  • Roads: With more than three-fourths of the construction under the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) envisaged through PPP (BOT or annuity), the highway expansion plan critically hinges on private sector investment. Important steps are being taken to ease financing constraints. Two major problems currently constrain highway sector finance. First, bank loans to highway projects were unsecured, and as a consequence subject to higher provisioning and capital adequacy norms. Second, highway projects need substantial long-term financing as they are typically capital-intensive, long-gestation projects. Currently, commercial banks find it difficult to lend long-term due to apprehensions about asset-liability mismatch. The upgradation target has been surpassed with more than 31,000 km of upgradation work completed by January 2010 against the annual target of 16,000 km. Two- thirds of the new connectivity annual target has already been reached by January 2010.
  • Railways: The Indian Railways (IR) released its ambitious 'Vision 2020' in December 2009 which recognizes the need for IR to reinvent itself to pursue growth in market share as well as revenue. Putting in to practice are aims to undertake a complete overhaul of rail infrastructure by creating 25,000 kms of new lines, having more double/multiple lines, converting the entire network (barring the hill and heritage railways) to broad gauge, having quadruple lines on key traffic routes, and segregating passenger and freight services into separate double-line corridors.
  • Vision 2020 proposes providing special-purpose rolling-stock to suit customer needs and using information technology to track cargo (as also to reduce the cost of operations). It also emphasizes establishing partnerships with major logistics providers and close linkages with customers, developing multi-modal logistics parks that could provide aggregation of cargo and door-to-door service, and improving the carrying capacity of freight wagons.
  • Urban: India's current urban population of approximately 365 million will increase by more than 60% in the next 20 years to reach 590 million by the year 2030. This rapid growth is exerting severe pressure on the already very low coverage and quality of basic infrastructure and services.
    The pace of urban infrastructure development is extremely slow. Each passing year widens the infrastructure gap, which the fragmented governance system is ill equipped to meet. The need of the hour is to politically empower ULBs and enhance their organizational capacity so that they are able to raise revenues, and plan and implement infrastructure projects.


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