Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday asserted that “a very positive sentiment” towards India was discernible now among foreign investors, especially in its infrastructure domain.

Briefing journalists after meeting a group of international investors here, Mr. Nath said he had suggested to Temasek, a Singapore-based investment firm with a wide reach, to explore the possibility of setting up a dedicated India investment fund. Having first floated the proposal last October, he would now “raise” the subject again in follow-up talks.

However, he cautioned that the idea, designed to promote the flow of foreign investment into the roads, highways and other areas of infrastructure in India, was still at the “initial” stage.

On a “conservative estimate,” India's roads and highways sector recorded $2-3 billion worth of foreign direct investment in the last 12 months. Commitments of this order from various countries, including the U.S., were now at various stages of being utilised.

Discounting the possibility of risk associated with investments in India's roads and highways sector, he noted that the rising trajectory of traffic was such that “we either build roads or we build garages.” And, land-acquisition for projects in this sector was not a contentious issue, as the states in India were “hungry for roads.” Moreover, land acquisition at market prices was being facilitated under the framework of India's National Highways Authority Act.

Because of such policy initiatives and the investment drive, India was now “on track” in implementing the five-year programme of building roads and highways at an outlay of $80-billion, said Mr. Nath.

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