Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism meets Shri Jitin Prasada

Senior Vice Minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism, Government of Japan, Me. Ken Okuda accompanied by delegates from his Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan etc. met Shri Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways here today. Both the Ministers agreed and acknowledged the need to enhance the cooperation in pursuance of the decisions taken in the Prime Minister level meeting held last year wherein the focus on infrastructure development and cooperation between the two countries, especially in roads sector was agreed to. 

Referring to the statements of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in the First Indo-Japan Ministerial level Economic Dialogue held on 30th April, 2012, Mr. Ken Okuda conveyed that the Japanese Government is looking at sharing and exchange of technical experts and technology, especially in respect of development programme of India for the high speed corridors of expressways. He mentioned that to operationalisation of the cooperation and undertaking cooperation activities is possible once the two countries sign the cooperation agreement at the earliest. 

Welcoming the visiting dignitary, Shri Jitin Prasada informed that of the various objectives and the focus areas that have been identified for prioritised operationalisation are development of the high speed expressway corridors, use of modern technology for Intelligent Transport System (ITS) including Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) and tolling system. Referring to the huge National Highways & Expressways Development Programme of India, Mr. Jitin Prasada stated that funding of these projects would require some financing solutions and perhaps this is the area where Japan can suggest some solutions. He also informed that tolling of all the expressways and highways is not the only workable model in India and there is a need for alternative solutions for generating revenues to sustain development. Perhaps dual use of land alongside the road and expressways as also space available under the elevated expressways could be utilised for real estate and commercial development. He inquired about Japanese model available in this context and invited their views and exchange of expertise in this area. 

Shri Jitin Prasada also emphasised that considering the population of vehicles on road in India, de-congestion is a constant requirement that India has to overcome. Land acquisition is another constraint faced by us. He inquired about the situation in Japan and the measures they have taken to tackle the same. 

Mr. Ken Okuda informed that dual use of land alongside the road for real estate development is very less in Japan and such dual purpose is also regulated by certain rules and regulations which come into play. However, in Central Tokyo this has been done. He also informed that in Japan some private railway companies which undertake development of railway network, some such packages for dual use of the land alongside the tracks for commercial and real estate development is being undertaken. He also informed that in case of new projects which are greenfield in nature, perhaps dual use of land is possible where the proposed road is going through the congested cities or connecting the industrial/research or educational hubs where the model for development of real estate and commercial structures alongside the roads and under the elevated roads are possible in Japan. He assured that there are various models available the world over and if given an opportunity, a study will be carried out by the Japanese experts to identify some suitable solution for India. 

Shri Jitin Prasada also mentioned that India has a prime objective of containing the road accidents and are looking forward to ensure road safety. He inquired about the situation in Japan and the measures undertaken by them to reduce the road accidents ensuring road safety. The visiting dignitary informed that usually the Japanese undertake surveys for the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) and identify the black spots. He offered that such surveys can be undertaken even for the other technical assistance and financing solutions. It was mentioned that JICA could be the channel for supporting such cooperation activities and exchange of experts and financial assistance. He thanked the Japanese delegation and assured that signing of Agreement for the agreed cooperation activities will be expedited. 

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