Infrastructure key to India’s growth: ONGC chief


Bangalore : India’s ability to sustain a high growth rate would be determined by the pace of infrastructure development and stability in the country, a top official said Thursday.

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“Infrastructure development pace and social-political stability in the country will be key to sustain the high growth rate,” state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma said.

Addressing the National Quality Summit 2010 of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here, Sharma said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) can grow over nine percent per annum only if infrastructure is improved.

“Our infrastructure growth has been tardy and rumbling on for years. Like an elephant, it can stumble also. Unless we fix the inherent problems such as land acquisition and time-consuming procedures, early execution of various projects will remain a challenge,” Sharma said in his address at the opening plenary of the three-day annual event.

He also recalled the negative publicity generated in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

“Similarly, the highway between New Delhi and Dehradun, where our company is headquartered, is congested all the time, taking seven hours to travel 250 km by road,” Sharma said.

Citing a report in the recent issue of The Economist on the prospects of India outpacing China’s growth rate in this decade, Sharma said inclusive growth was another crucial factor for ensuring stability in the country, as about 220 out of over 600 districts, spread across 20 states, were affected by Maoist insurgency.

“Inclusive growth does not seem to be happening, though economy is expanding. More Indians are getting into the world’s richest list, while the number of below poverty line families is increasing at the same time, building up resentment,” Sharma said.

He also stressed on the issue of India’s energy security.

Though India was about 70 percent self-sufficient in exploring hydrocarbons and energy fuels during the mid-1970s, the phenomenal demand growth since then has resulted in the country importing 80 percent of its energy needs.

“As it will be difficult to meet the increasing energy demand from non-renewable resources such as hydrocarbons, there is an urgent need to shift generation and consumption patterns to renewable sources such as hydel, wind, solar and nuclear fuel,” Sharma said.