Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Infrastructure companies keen to help re-build earthquake-hit Nepal

Indian infrastructure companies are keen to participate in the earthquake-struck Nepal's rebuilding programme, but fear that the country may take a while to rebuild its infrastructure.

The massive earthquake in Nepal, which killed over 7,000 people, has ruined roads, shattered buildings, damaged hydropower projects and transport infrastructure. While the immediate challenge is to clear the debris and evacuate people, the next step would involve rehabilitation of life, which will include rebuilding infrastructure.

The challenge for Nepal would be to arrange for funds for these projects and find engineering and construction companies to execute the projects. Also, Nepal's terrain is a dod gy one and the earthquake has raised security issues.

"Indian contractors would be the obvious choice for Nepal to re-build the infrastructure that has been destroyed. But the big challenge would be to arrange for resources to finance these projects. We hope bilateral and multilateral financing is channelised to help the country," said DV Raju, vice-president of the National Highway Builders Federation lobby group and vice-president of Hyderabad-based Soma Group.

The two bigger neighbours of the land-locked country, China and India, have in the past extended their support to Nepal to develop infrastructure, particularly roads and hydropower projects. Experts feel that these two countries may also lead the way in the country's rehabilitation. Even before the earthquake, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had committed to Nepal $1 billion in concessional loans to help build power plants and roads.

"With the experience of the recent earthquake, the country would have to do better planning for new infrastructure that will require participa tion from bigger and more technologically-developed companies," Raju said.

Some of India's biggest infrastructure companies such as state-run SJVN, GMR InfrastructureBSE -2.82 %, Tata PowerBSE -1.30 %, Jindal Power and Steel have been exploring hydropower opportunity in the country.

Industry experts feel that the hydropower projects may get delayed as the country would have to be more cautious about these projects in the wake of the earthquake. But Nepal may need to start rebuilding its buildings, roads and transport infrastructure on a priority basis to restore normalcy.

"Due to the earthquake, our ongoing work has got delayed by a month but we hope to resume soon. There is need for Indian companies to participate in Nepal's rebuilding work more than ever since the country does not have local appetite for such projects," said Mukund Sapre, executive director, IL&FS Transportation Networks.

In March this year, IL&FS signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nepalese government to prepare a detailed project report for a fast-track road project, with the option to build the road later. Indian companies may also offer their services for construction of airports and other urban infrastructure.

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