11th Auto Expo Inaugural Ceremony 1530 hrs, 6th January, 2012, Lal Chowk, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi

Shri Praful Patel, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

Mr B Muthuraman, President, CII

Mr S Sandilya, President, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers

Mr Arvind Kapur, President, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association

Mr Rajive Kaul, Chairman, Auto Expo 2012 Steering Committee

Mr Patrick Blain, President, International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers ( OICA)

Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII

Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen

  • I am pleased to address the 11th Auto Expo. I extend my felicitations to the organizers, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association, Confederation of Indian Industry and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers for hosting this show. The Auto Expo has emerged as one of the top platforms in Asia for the industry, and I am delighted that so many participants from so many countries are present here today.
  • The automotive sector is closely linked to the progress of the road network of a country. Roads and highways not only connect different production and consumption regions but also open up new markets by accessing new consumers. In a country as large as India, roads and highways are the arterial lifelines of economic growth. As the road network expands, opportunities for the automotive sector too rise concomitantly across the domains of passenger vehicles of all sizes, commercial vehicles, and auto parts.
  • The objective of my ministry is to enable expansion of the road system and facilitate road transport so that each citizen is connected to the larger economic growth process of the country.
  • India currently has 3.34 million kms of road network, the world’s 2nd largest road system. About 60 per cent of freight and 87 per cent of passenger traffic passes on roads. Although National Highways constitute only about 1.7 per cent of the road network, they carry 40 per cent of the total road traffic.
  • I am pleased to announce that the Golden Quadrilateral is now complete and four-fifths of the North South East West Corridor is 4-laned while the rest is under implementation. Phases III, IV and V of the National Highway Development Program have already made excellent progress in four-laning and much work has been completed or is being implemented, while work on Phase VI has been initiated. Besides, the rural roads programs under Bharat Nirman and the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana are  reaching down to the smallest villages, opening up markets in the remote areas. Similarly, initiatives for connecting north east states and border areas are also progressing.
  • The government has already announced plans of investing Rs 550 billion in highway construction projects this year alone – its biggest investment so far. The projects will see the construction of 7,300 km of roads including the building of new expressways in addition to expanding existing roads.  We have initiated the e-tendering process on highway projects to achieve more transparency in the bidding process. 15 highway construction projects totaling over $3 billion have been recently approved and bids for several have already been invited.
  • In the road transport sector, several initiatives have been taken by the Ministry for smooth and rapid administrative procedures. The work of computerization of Road Transport Offices is almost complete, facilitating availability of complete database of information. The scheme for centralized database of driving licenses called Sarathi was introduced in July last year. Vahan, for vehicle registration, was also implemented simultaneously. The portals will facilitate online payment of taxes, fees and transport charges shortly.
  • The Motor Vehicles Act was examined by an Expert Committee and the recommendations are being considered. This aims at amending the existing Act to meet the priorities of the modern road transport system and align it with best practices globally. The Ministry has introduced a new national permit system to be implemented electronically through a web portal. This would be a significant step towards speeding vehicular movement across states.
  • It is proposed that automated inspection and certification centers be set up in ten states to test roadworthiness of vehicles. I commend SIAM for their partnership with MoRTH in setting up the first such I & C centre on a pilot basis in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Regarding road safety, a National Road Safety Policy has been approved. The Policy lays stress on road safety issues, establishment of an information database, strengthening of training and issue of driving license systems, and better enforcement of related laws, among other steps. The National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board is also under consideration. During the last year, we undertook a huge public awareness campaign, working with transport and police in states for distribution of material and carrying out the Road Safety Week in January. I am happy to note that the present Auto Expo has a special segment on road safety.
  • The widening gap in the availability of skilled human resources is one of the key challenges the Industry is facing. The industry suffers from training capacity constraints, lack of trained manpower and inadequate managerial skills with performance below desired levels. Given that over 10 million people enter the workforce every year, there is high potential for trainable workforce available to the industry.  It is for the Industry to take advantage of this. I am aware that many companies have set up schools for automotive training, and I would urge you to look at more such options under the new National Manufacturing Policy which is being addressed through NSDC.
  • The automotive industry will play a very vital role in the economy and generation of employment over the years to come. Platforms like Auto Expo are the place to see first-hand the opportunities that development of the industry is creating in India. Today, India is appreciated not only as one of the fastest-growing automotive markets in the world, but also a production hub for high quality vehicles and components that meet the needs of consumers across all income classes.
  • One of the critical issues facing the auto- component industry today is the quality of auto- components sold in the aftermarket and the serious cancer of spurious parts that afflicts the aftermarket in general. While the government on its part is looking at ways to ensure minimum quality and technical standards on spare parts sold in the aftermarket, I am extremely pleased to learn that a consumer education and public awareness campaign- “Asli Naqli”, is an integral part of Auto Expo.
  • In years to come, I have no doubt that the Indian automotive industry will be a global player of high repute.

I wish the present Auto Expo all success. Thank you.