With the target of making over 90 percent of Indian roads bituminous, the central government has allocated more than 10 percent of its total expenditure on roads development testifying to the high priority being accorded the sector, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.
"Over 90 percent roads in India have to be bituminous. The current government has kept the development of roads at a high priority by allocating more than 10 percent of the total spending for the same," Pradhan said here inaugurating the two-day Asian Bitumen Conference being held for the first time in India.
"The current government has kept the development of roads at a high priority by allocating more than 10 percent of the total spending for the same," he said.
"I'm happy to note that bitumen products are being introduced at all the refineries in the country for the better performance of roads in India," he added.
Noting that with a road infrastructure of 3.3 million km, India has the second largest road network in the world after America, Pradhan said: "Bitumen becomes an important parameter in planning and execution of road construction projects in India."
"Owing to the diverse climatic conditions, it requires better understanding of bitumen supply and demand in the country."
According to the minister, total bitumen sales in India in 2014-2015 amounted to 4.8 million tonnes.
Experts from as many as 20 countries from Asia have come together to discuss challenges and opportunities emerging in the bitumen market in Asia, the conference organisers Asian Bitumen said.
"India's bitumen utilisation will outpace production in the coming years as demand is expected to accelerate," the organisers said in a statement.
According to the organisers, currently 90 percent of India's bitumen requirement is met by local oil companies, while the balance is imported. India also exports during the monsoon season from the east coast.
"Factors such as a shift in demand towards value added bitumen products, preference being given to cement over bitumen in road construction in countries like India, and additional usages emerging for the crude by-product have dramatically affected the outlook of the bitumen market in Asia," the statement said.
Global bitumen demand is expected to reach 122 million tonnes in 2018.