In a novel exercise, the Centre and states have decided to join force to set up a mechanism to fast-track stalled infrastructure projects. The proposed ‘joint mechanism’, to be headed by Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth and comprising chief secretaries of concerned states, aims at expediting the implementation of projects that have a cumulative investment potential of nearly Rs 10 lakh crore.
To fix the responsibility for delays in various projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the formulation of a database on major contracting firms entrusted to supply equipment and raw materials for different projects and upload their details in the procurement portals of concerned Union ministries and state-run companies.
While electronic procurement is gradually becoming the norm in most government procurement, the concerned Union ministries should focus on making the suppliers accountable for untimely delivery, the Prime Minister has said.
The government has decided that the mechanism would also be web-based for online resolution of issues. Currently no known mechanism exists to coordinate execution of projects between the Centre and the states.
On fast tracking the ongoing projects, the government has intensified the monitoring of progress, as key projects such as roads, airports and electricity generation are way behind their annual targets.
The Planning Commission, which the Prime Minister wants to be dismantled, has cautioned that while much less money is being spent for giving facelift to infrastructure development, even the pace of execution of various projects is also tardy.
Seth had already told an industry delegation in December last year that about 255 projects are stalled entailing an investment of nearly Rs 10 lakh crore, but considering that the previous UPA government was on its last leg, not much headway could be made.
The bad loans of public sector banks led to their gross non performing assets increase by nearly four times from March 2010 (Rs 59,972 crore) to March 2014 (Rs 2,04,249 crore), according to the Economic Survey of the finance ministry.
In a presentation to Modi on September 10, the Plan panel cited that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has invested only Rs 162 crore during the April-August period against a targeted expenditure of Rs 934 crore for 2014-15.
While the AAI is yet to declare airports in Bhopal, Indore and Raipur as international airports, it has still not identified four airports to be developed along with private partnership in the first five months of 2014-15. Portraying a dismal picture for the railways, the presentation said it only 450 km of new lines were constructed in 2013-14, but has managed to construct only 39 km out of a targeted 300 km during the first five months of 2014-15. It achieved only 36 km of gauge conversion and electrified only 97 kms.
In the roads sector, construction of 1,860 kms of roads awarded against targeted 8,500 kms and 178 km of highways tolled against targeted 3,730 km. In the electricity sector, the country added capacity of 8,318.47 MW during these months as against the targeted 17,830.30 MW. Coal output was 220.52 million tonne during the period against targeted 630.25 MT.