NEW DELHI: India was prominently featured at the '2023 Regional Cooperation and Integration Conference: Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Integration through Economic Corridor Development (ECD),' hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Tbilisi, Georgia, from September 5 to 7.
This international gathering drew participation from more than 30 member nations, encompassing senior officials from ADB's Developing Member Countries, representatives of development partner agencies, and regional cooperation organizations, according to a press release by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Under the leadership of Sumita Dawra, Special Secretary (Logistics) of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) within the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Indian delegation unveiled the groundbreaking PM Gatishakti National Master Plan. This ambitious 'Made in India' initiative takes a holistic approach to integrated planning for multimodal infrastructure connectivity, with the goal of boosting logistics efficiency and fostering socio-economic development.
The conference had two primary objectives: first, to explore strategies for incorporating spatial transformation and area-centric approaches into Economic Corridor Development (ECD), thereby reinforcing regional cooperation; and second, to disseminate knowledge about the application of the ECD framework and operational guidelines for investment-worthy projects, as outlined in the press release.
Dawra emphasized that PM Gatishakti transcends mere infrastructure connectivity, focusing on area-based socio-economic development as an integral part of regional connectivity. She underscored the Indian government's targeted investments in infrastructure, its embrace of cutting-edge geospatial technologies, and their positive impact on both the Ease of Doing Business and the Ease of Living.
According to the release, "PM Gatishakti National Master Plan is a GIS data-driven digital platform containing over 1400 data layers and more than 50 tools. It offers a visual representation of trunk and utility infrastructure, land use, existing structures, soil quality, habitation, tourist sites, forest-sensitive areas, and more." This platform empowers data-driven decision-making, including assessments of site suitability.
One of PM Gatishakti's standout features is its holistic development approach, focused on crucial project locations, industrial clusters, tourist destinations, and social sector assets. This approach ensures that connectivity infrastructure aligns seamlessly with the manufacturing value chain, logistics facilities, and social sector institutions such as schools and hospitals.
PM Gatishakti has played a pivotal role in expanding India's multimodal corridors, including industrial road corridors, rail freight corridors, and waterway networks, thereby enhancing regional connectivity and trade with neighboring countries, as per the release. Since its inception, the program has assessed 100 projects valued at USD 71.26 billion, demonstrating its effectiveness in optimizing infrastructure development and minimizing investment risks.
Dawra cited examples of projects like the Indo-Nepal Haldia Access Controlled Corridor and the Regional Waterways Grid, illustrating how PM Gatishakti has strengthened connectivity with regional partners. Furthermore, Dawra suggested that ADB and partner countries could draw valuable lessons from PM Gatishakti's approach to broaden the scope of their regional cooperation programs. By integrating area-centric growth models, similar benefits of time and cost savings in project planning, along with reduced carbon footprint of infrastructure projects, could be achieved, according to the release.
In addition to PM Gatishakti, Dawra presented India's other digital initiatives in the logistics sector, including the Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) and Logistics Data Bank (LDB). These initiatives enhance trade facilitation and logistics ease through various functionalities, attracting private-sector investments.
In summary, India's PM Gatishakti approach to spatial transformation and area-based infrastructure development is positioned to create Next Generation Infrastructure while promoting Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business. India generously offered its domestically developed GIS-based technology to ADB and SASEC countries to enhance socio-economic planning and regional cooperation, as outlined in the release. The conference served as a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration, with India's innovative strategies taking center stage in the pursuit of regional integration and development.