The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has conceded that it needs help. After repeated concerns expressed by the government about its delayed road building projects, it has asked the Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) to carry out training and capacity building for its employees.
The Prime Minister's Committee on Infrastructure has set a target of 46,000 km of national highway development over the next nine years, at a total cost of Rs 2,20,000 crore.
No doubt the NHAI has changed the face of Indian highways in the last few years. Over 6,700 km have been widened into four lane highways and another 7,600 km are close to completion. But as an NHAI spokesman pointed out, "The sudden quantum jump in investments into NHAI calls for a fundamental change in our business processes." It is to bring this about that IDFC has been roped in.
To prepare its senior officers, the NHAI has decided to train them in public-private partnerships (PPPs), teach them to appreciate the issues and activities involved in delivering such projects. The emphasis of the programme is not on how to build roads, which the NHAI management knows very well, but on managing road assets under PPPs.
The IDFC will train 10 general managers, 14 deputy general managers, six project directors and 68 managers in PPPs through a gruelling residential programme. The participants are mostly engineers, who stand to gain from the financial concepts and inputs on the model concession agreement approved by the Prime Minister's committee on infrastructure.