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Thursday, October 29, 2020

One year of Narendra Modi-led government: A look at what these five ministries promised and what they delivered

In this part of the series, IE looks at the key events in five more ministries during the first year of the Modi govt, what the ministries promised and what they actually delivered.

By: Express News Service | Updated: May 23, 2015 7:23:25 am
Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi government, Modi government, one year of Modi government, Uma Bharti, Suresh Prabhu, Najma Heptullah November 2014. The Prime Minister picks up the shovel at the Assi Ghat in Varanasi, his constituency, during a Clean Ganga campaign. (Source: Express photo by Anand Singh)

In this part of the series, The Indian Express  looks at the key events in five more ministries during the first year of the Modi govt, what the ministries promised and what they actually delivered, how they rate their performances — and what their rivals think

Water Resources: Ganga comes first but work crawls, rivers move to link

uma-bharti-l Uma Bharti on the Sabarmati in Gujarat. (Source: Express photo by Javed Raja)

Promises
Cleaning of the Ganga became the primary task of the Water Resources Ministry in the last one year. The government promised it would not just rid the river of pollution but also ensure that it has adequate flow throughout the stretch  and regenerate biodiversity in the river. The other high-profile promise was to begin work on interlinking of rivers.

One year of Modi govt: What they promised and what they delivered

Pluses
Last week, the government approved a Rs 20,000 crore budget for the Ganga cleaning exercise for the next five years. On the river interlinking project, work has been going on for over three decades now; the current government has managed to accelerate the work in its first year. The first project, the Ken-Betwa link, has already been cleared by the cabinet. Six more are likely to be approved soon. A programme for aquifer mapping has started. A comprehensive water information system has been put online.

Minuses
The Ganga cleaning has progressed at a slow pace. The ministry has lacked clarity on what exactly has to be done. The work required involvement of a number of agencies and departments and that has hampered the pace. Following the clearance of Rs 20,000 crore,officials say work is likely to gather pace in a couple of months. With the Ganga project and the interlinking of rivers taking up most of the attention of the ministry, many other programmes have suffered. Little progress has been made on installing an early warning system for floods. The Water Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change has got little attention.

Self-rating
“I am 100 per cent satisfied with the work my ministry was able to do in its first year. I had set out three objectives and I am very happy that my ministry has been deliver on all of these. The first of course was Ganga cleaning. A lot of work has been done in consultation with every possible stakeholder. The government has just cleared Rs 20,000 crore for the programme. Ganga cleaning will be one of the biggest successes of this government. I am very happy with the progress on the interlinking of rivers. We have been able to do in one year what the previous government couldn’t accomplish in 10 years. The third thing I wanted to do, and which I have achieved in doing, is fast-tracking of clearance for projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme and the Flood Management Programme.

Uma Bharti
Minister, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

Opposition rating
“The Water Resources Ministry has become all about Ganga, but even then it is only sound and fury. Very little progress seems to have been made. What is tragic is that we have not even heard about other very important things. A separate agency to encourage water conservation was under creation. We don’t know what happened to that. We have already seen very drastic cuts in the budget of the ministry. Which means very useful programmes like the AIBP and FMP will suffer. The performance has been very disappointing, and if programmes like AIBP and FMP are allowed to suffer, it will very badly impact our farmers and rural population.

♦ Pawan Kumar Bansal
Former water resources minister

Promises
Soon after taking charge, Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised a new national policy to address Left Wing Extremism, as well as long-term visas to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Pluses
Among administrative measures, enhancement of compensation to civilian victims of communal, terrorist or Naxal violence from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, and for 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims also to Rs 5 lakh.  The ministry cleared recruitment of 33 per cent women in police forces in all UTs and Delhi; higher financial powers to DGPs of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) for various procurements. Merger of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards simplifies system to one OCI card with enhanced benefits; electronic-tourist visas extended to 150 countries.

In policing, NIA unearthed a module of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh; arrested more than 60 cadres of Assam’s NDFB(S) that had killed gunned down 78 people in 2014. Incidents of LWE-related violence dipped 22 per cent from the previous year.

Minuses
The ministry has courted a number of controversies, including a ban on India’s Daughter, Leslee Udwin’s documentary on the 2012 gangrape on a bus in Delhi. A lookout circular against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai led to the Delhi High Court pulling the government up. The government also put donations from 16 overseas NGOs including Ford Foundation subject to prior approval. A major controversy was the ministry’s removal of home secretary Anil Goswami amid allegations that he had called CBI officials to stall the arrest of Matang Sinh in the Saradha scam.

The promised LWE policy remains on the drawing board. Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana are without governors. The annual chief ministers’ conference on internal security is yet to be organised. The government is yet to fulfil its promise of bringing underworld don Dawood Ibrahim to India for trial. Nor has it released, as promised, the religion census for 2011.

Self-rating
“The security situation in J&K, northeastern states and LWE-affected states has shown overall improvement with the security forces able to contain militant and terrorist activities. The cabinet approved enhanced relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased person in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.”
n Rajnath Singh
Home Minister

Opposition rating
“Communal tension and social disharmony has increased in the last year. That speaks for itself. There is a perceived feeling of too much power being concentrated in the hands of the Centre and that shows in the appointment and removal of governors and their interference on the working of elected governments. They always talk about strengthening the states but all their actions have been in the opposite direction.”

♦ Ashwani Kumar
member, Cong shadow group on Home

Railways: High speed targets, slow off the tracks

Suresh Prabhu launches an app for registering complaints.  (Source: Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey) Suresh Prabhu launches an app for registering complaints. (Source: Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

PROMISES
In the vision it outlined through the rail budget, the Ministry of Railways in 2014 adopted a near-plan holiday citing a vast number of pending projects. Money was allocated to 30 ongoing projects with high rates of return. Foreign direct investment was to arrive in a big way. A never-before 40 per cent higher allocation was given for cleanliness of trains and stations. That apart, Narendra Modi himself outlined specific works for speedy implementation. In a year that has seen a change of ministers with Suresh Prabhu replacing D V Sadananda Gowda in November, progress on various fronts has been slow as Railways took a course revision while Prabhu settled down.

Pluses
In January, the government ended a two-year paralysis in high-level appointments, installing new Railway Board members and general managers. A few steps, some of these already in the works, have also been taken in improving passenger amenities, such as introducing e-catering, mobile apps for ticketing as well as women’s safety, complaints registration and WiFi in a few stations. Decisions taken to install CCTV in coaches and procure modern, electric train sets from global makers; efforts on  to increase freight business 15 per cent this year, though the  shortage of wagons remains.

MINUSES
The speed of existing trains is yet to increase, punctuality figures have fallen drastically, and cleanliness and on-board services remain as they were. Not a rupee of foreign direct investment has arrived as was intended, despite a policy being in place. Work on introducing bullet trains has been slow, as has the progress of one of the PM’s favourite projects, that of four railway universities. Part of the slowdown is believed to be because the centrepiece of Prabhu’s turnaround plan, enhancing the network’s capacity through borrowed money, is expected to start getting results only after three years or more. Here, the railways have so far been unable to come up with a list of bankable projects that LIC would like to fund, despite an MoU in place for Rs 1.5 lakh crore in five years. Prabhu handed much of his powers to his minister of state Manoj Sinha recently, having earlier delegated the powers to decide on commercial tenders. Of the number of committees with experts from outside as well as inside the railway system formed, some have submitted their reports, but all that is yet to translate into action.

Self-rating
“To pull Railways out of the present situation, we are working on immediate, short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies. We are addressing customer-centric issues immediately. For decongestion, improving safety and capacity augmentation, we have formulated a suitable strategy. Any project involving doubling, tripling of line which gives the relief in the fastest way will require a minimum three years of completion and a mid-term strategy accordingly has been worked out. Our objective is to make railways a profitable, efficient, customer friendly and safer mode of transportation.”
♦ Suresh Prabhu
Railways Minister

Opposition rating
“They promised bullet trains, promised to fast-track ongoing projects and promised big-ticket projects. I don’t think anything has taken off at the ground. Many projects like doubling work, new lines started during the UPA government have come to a standstill because of lack of funds. Many World Bank-assisted projects are making slow progress.”
♦ Mallikarjun Kharge
head, Cong shadow group on railways

Home: Film ban, NGO watch and unfulfilled LWE promise

PM and Rajnath Singh in discussion in Parliament. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi) PM and Rajnath Singh in discussion in Parliament. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

Promises
Soon after taking charge, Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised a new national policy to address Left Wing Extremism, as well as long-term visas to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Pluses
Among administrative measures, enhancement of compensation to civilian victims of communal, terrorist or Naxal violence from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, and for 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims also to Rs 5 lakh.  The ministry cleared recruitment of 33 per cent women in police forces in all UTs and Delhi; higher financial powers to DGPs of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) for various procurements. Merger of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards simplifies system to one OCI card with enhanced benefits; electronic-tourist visas extended to 150 countries.

In policing, NIA unearthed a module of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh; arrested more than 60 cadres of Assam’s NDFB(S) that had killed gunned down 78 people in 2014. Incidents of LWE-related violence dipped 22 per cent from the previous year.

Minuses
The ministry has courted a number of controversies, including a ban on India’s Daughter, Leslee Udwin’s documentary on the 2012 gangrape on a bus in Delhi. A lookout circular against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai led to the Delhi High Court pulling the government up. The government also put donations from 16 overseas NGOs including Ford Foundation subject to prior approval. A major controversy was the ministry’s removal of home secretary Anil Goswami amid allegations that he had called CBI officials to stall the arrest of Matang Sinh in the Saradha scam.

The promised LWE policy remains on the drawing board. Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana are without governors. The annual chief ministers’ conference on internal security is yet to be organised. The government is yet to fulfil its promise of bringing underworld don Dawood Ibrahim to India for trial. Nor has it released, as promised, the religion census for 2011.

Self-rating
“The security situation in J&K, northeastern states and LWE-affected states has shown overall improvement with the security forces able to contain militant and terrorist activities. The cabinet approved enhanced relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased person in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.”
♦ Rajnath Singh
Home Minister

Opposition rating
“Communal tension and social disharmony has increased in the last year. That speaks for itself. There is a perceived feeling of too much power being concentrated in the hands of the Centre and that shows in the appointment and removal of governors and their interference on the working of elected governments. They always talk about strengthening the states but all their actions have been in the opposite direction.”
♦ Ashwani Kumar
Member, Cong shadow group on Home

Minority Affairs : USTAD skills and Najma’s ‘grading’ of minorities

najma Najma Heptulla and MoS Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi at USTAD launch. (Source: PTI photo)

PROMISES
In one of the first announcements for minorities by the new government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s first budget announced the government will move for “Upgradation of Traditional Skills in Arts, Resources and Goods”.

PLUSES
The ministry has moved the direct benefit transfer (DBT) way for disbursement of its scholarship schemes to do away with middlemen. The system of applications is being made digital. The traditional skills upgrade project, now called USTAD, was launched last week in Varanasi. The Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills was set up. Digitisation of Wakf properties is under way.

MINUSES
Only one proposal from the ministry — for a hike in the authorised share capital of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation — taken up by cabinet. Minister Najma Heptulla’s many controversies have included making a comparative assessment of the “minorityness” of Parsis vis a vis Muslims and, more, recently stirring a hornet’s nest on the RSS line of “all Indians are Hindu”. She has since denied endorsing that line and said she had used the word Hindi.

SELF-RATING
“We have just launched USTAD, we have high hopes on it. Besides all the flagship projects of this government like the Jan Dhan Yojana and the universal insurance plan are targeted at the poor and according to the Sachar committee report minorities are socio-economically backward… We are looking at launching the Nayi Manzil programme for integration of madrasa students this year. Work on developing Wakf land for the welfare of the community is also on.”
♦ Najma Heptulla
Minority Affairs Minister

OPPOSITION RATING
“Except for one programme, all the schemes of the ministry were actually started by UPA. Even these programmes have taken a backseat, including strengthening of the Wakf Act and institutions which was a manifesto commitment of the NDA. No steps have been taken to implement the amended provisions of the Act. ”
♦ K Rehman Khan
Former minority affairs minister

Environment  & Forests: Air quality index takes off, amended green laws wait

Prakash Javadekar during a visit to dumping grounds outside Mumbai. (Source: Express photo by Deepak Joshi) Prakash Javadekar during a visit to dumping grounds outside Mumbai. (Source: Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

Promises
During his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister talked about a “zero defect, zero effect” manufacturing thrust, the second part clearly referring to the effect of industries on environment. The government promised to ensure stricter compliance to environment laws, while making the appraisal and regulation process transparent, time-bound and predictable. It promised to update laws, introduce stricter pollution standards, and ensure faster clearance to industrial and infrastructure projects.

Pluses
The ministry has launched an air pollution index, formed a committee to review six laws, and announced stricter pollution norms for the cement industry. Recently, the cabinet cleared a law to set up an authority to manage thousands of crores of accumulated compensatory afforestation funds lying unused for over a decade. Defence infrastructure along the Chinese border, road connectivity in Naxal-affected areas, electricity transmission lines have been put on an automatic approval route. A classification of industrial sectors based on their pollution potential is in the works.

Minuses
The government promised amendments to environment laws in the budget session but is far from finalising these. Stricter pollution norms have so far come only for the cement industry, while a draft notification for introducing some new norms for thermal power plants have just been released for public consultation. Forests yet to be classified into “violate” and “inviolate” zones.

Self-rating
“From image makeover to ushering in transparency, cutting red tape to strengthening regulatory and conservation mechanism, there had been a lot of achievements during the last one year. We could transform the perceived image of the ministry from a roadblocks, bottlenecks and speed-breaks ministry to a transparent, people-oriented ministry… I accorded top priority to achieve policy-based decision making; decentralisation of decision making; and strengthening of conservation and regulatory mechanism. Big achievements include approval of all defence and other projects of strategic importance pending for years together; mandating 3,206 industrial units in 17 critically polluting sectors to install 24×7 monitoring equipment; launching of National Air Quality Index to educate the masses to help control pollution;CAMPA Bill to provide $6bn to the states for afforestation… The courts have been intervening in a number of cases due to infirmity in laws, non-clarity in rules and non-transparency in processes. We appointed a high-level committee to scrutinise existing laws since many decisions were being challenges in the courts. Wider consultation with all stakeholders is near completion, a comprehensive EP Act is on the anvil for more green growth.
Prakash Javadekar
Environment & ForesTS Minister

Opposition rating
“The first year saw systematic efforts to dilute the Forest Conservation Act, the Environment Protection Act and the Forest Rights Act. They have got the T S R Subramaniam Committee report which is a blueprint for environmental disaster. They are hell-bent on going ahead in the name of improving or increasing the ease of doing business. They are now systematically dismantling the edifice of environmental regulation that has been built up over the last 30 years. So, I am afraid, on environment, the performance record of this government is very very dismal.
♦ Jairam Ramesh
Member, Cong shadow group on MoEF

 

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