Infrastructure Development - Reaching new heights
India is the fastest-growing developing economy globally, with a GDP growth rate of 8.9 per cent in 2021. The country has ambitious agendas for development and aims to spend $ 1.4 trillion by 2023 on sustainable infrastructure development. Various national level schemes and policies have been implemented to build core infrastructure and maintain economic growth. The National Infrastructure Master Plan – Gati Shakti, the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), and the National Monetisation Pipeline have been momentous in attracting investments for infrastructure, increasing industrial growth and opening new development opportunities. In the budget 2022, the government has also increased capital expenditure by 35.4 per cent from INR 5.54 lakh crore to INR 7.50 lakh crore. The budget put extensive focus on Prime Minister's Gati Shakti plan for building infrastructure, looking at an expansion of national highways network by 25,000 kilometers, four multimodal logistics parks and ropeways under project Parvatmala.
Infrastructure development is underway, but India is also aware of the significance of tackling climate change while progressing further with its ambitions. The government has been taking measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change which have led to improvement in India's SDG score from 57 in 2019 to 66 in 2021. Some of the regulatory actions by the government include banning of plastic items by 2022, adoption of cleaner technology such as Bharat Stage Emission Standards BS-VI norms for fuel and vehicles and a visible boost in the demand for Electric Vehicles (EV) under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicle (FAME) scheme due to electric vehicles (EV) subsidies, setting up of a sustainable finance group to drive policy and framework for sustainable finance and climate risk, and many more. The budget 2022 also emphasised addressing climate change via initiatives around clean mobility. It laid out up-gradation and increased use of public transport, special mobility zones with zero fossil fuel policy and EV vehicles.
Although development is taking place at a rapid pace in India nationally, it is essential that cities' transformation into hubs takes place rather swiftly and in a sustainable manner. The task of development in a nation as vast as India is not easy, and India has often urged first world countries for support in this venture. The European Union (EU) recently extended their support as it funded the International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC) Asia & Australasia programme in India. As part of this collaboration, 25 city governments from Europe and India will collaborate on ecological transition, urban and regional revitalisation, and innovative, sustainable, and carbon-neutral ecosystems until 2023. European economies are the most developed and have higher adoption of clean technology than the rest of the world. This partnership will help India achieve its goals for infrastructure and economic growth and contribute to its ambition of becoming a net-zero economy by 2070 with the adoption of clean technology infrastructure.
Furthermore, while large-scale national infrastructure is already receiving focus, this partnership would aid India in extending the focus towards grassroots development of issues of tier-2 and tier-3 cities. With global estimates showing that 50 per cent of the world's population will be living in cities by 2050, sustainable living conditions and opportunities must be available in cities. Moreover, Japan also joined hands with India for infrastructure development in Northeastern states via the India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of Northeast which undertakes infrastructure projects in the region. International support shown in recent times for infrastructural development in India has contributed to the national agendas of the country and has contributed to aligning India with international agendas.
The Indian economy is progressing rapidly towards its goals and could surpass China in the coming years. The active focus of the government in implementing policies and schemes on infrastructure development while keeping a tab on climate change will act as a booster for India's growth. It will further support other sectors and industries to achieve their potential and bring India closer to becoming a $ 5 trillion economy.
This article is co-authored by Bhamini Rathore and Bhakti Jain.