India to bar Chinese companies from highway projects including in joint ventures: Gadkari

PTI New Delhi Jul 01, 2020, 03.23 PM(IST)

Indian security personnel stand guard overlooking the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Nagrota near Jammu on August 14, 2019. Photograph:( AFP )

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Currently, only a few projects which were undertaken much earlier involve some Chinese partners. When asked about this, the Minister said that the new decision will be implemented in current and future tenders.

India will not allow Chinese companies to participate in highway projects, including those through joint ventures, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday amid border standoff with China.

Gadkari also said the government will ensure that Chinese investors are not entertained in various sectors like Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The senior minister's assertions assume significance against the backdrop of border standoff between India and China in Ladakh that also saw the death of 20 Indian Army personnel last month.

Also read: What should India do now to fight China's provocations?

Amid escalating tensions, the government on Monday banned 59 apps, mostly having Chinese links, citing threats to national security.

"We will not give permission to joint ventures that have Chinese partners for road construction. We have taken a firm stand that if they (Chinese companies) come via joint venture in our country, we will not allow it," Gadkari told PTI in an interview.

The Road Transport, Highways and MSME minister said the policy will be out soon banning Chinese firms and relaxing norms for Indian companies to expand their eligibility criteria for participation in highway projects.

Also read: India-China standoff: Why PLA soldiers are eyeing the Galwan valley

Currently, only a few projects which were undertaken much earlier involve some Chinese partners. When asked about this, the Minister said that the new decision will be implemented in current and future tenders.

With respect to existing tenders and future bids, Gadkari said rebidding would be done if there are any Chinese joint ventures.

"We have taken a decision to relax norms for our companies to ensure that they qualify in bidding in large projects. I have directed the Highways Secretary (Giridhar Aramane) and NHAI Chairman (SS Sandhu) to hold a meeting for relaxing technical and financial norms so that our companies can qualify to work," he said.

Elaborating on the decision, Gadkari said if a contractor can qualify for a small project, he can also qualify for a large project. "Construction norms are not good so I have asked to change it. We are changing it so that we can encourage Indian companies," he added.

According to him, qualification norms for projects are being rationalised to ensure Indian companies do not require to enter into pacts with foreign partners to grab projects.

"Even if we have to go for foreign joint venture in the areas of technology, consultancy or design, we will not allow Chinese," the Minister said.

About the MSME sector, Gadkari said the effort is to enhance the capacity of local production but at the same time foreign investment is being promoted.

However, he made it clear that despite decision to encourage foreign investment, Chinese investors would not be allowed.

"For upgradation of technology, research, consultancy and other works, we will encourage foreign investment and joint ventures in MSMEs but in case of Chinese we will not entertain them," he said.