Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PMO steps in to push stalled infrastructure projects
NEW DELHI, Dec 30, 2014: : In its latest attempt to spur investment and get stalled projects moving, the Prime Minister's Office has asked key infrastructure ministries to put together a list of long-pending projects that have failed to take off due to state government-related hurdles.

Sources said Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to PM Narendra Modi, has written to several secretaries, asking them to send a list by next Monday. "It has been observed that there are a large number of projects, both of the central government, state governments... are held up due to ineffective handling of issues. The factors also include policies of the state governments, lack of prioritization at the state level or inadequate follow up from the Central level," Misra is learnt to have written to secretaries last week.

Modi's chief of staff suggested that ministries take up the issues with the state governments and sort them out in a "time-bound manner". Separately, the department of industrial policy and promotion has prepared a checklist to make it easier for companies to do business, indicating that the government is keen to push reforms in states.

The move comes after the Centre eased rules in several sectors and expedited environment and forest clearances to get several road, power and coal projects moving. There has been progress in other areas too, such as getting a green light from the defence ministry, which had in the past blocked proposals, citing strategic concerns. Even the home ministry has been asked to expedite all approvals so that security delays don't hamper economic activity that creates employment.

In fact, steps initiated by the UPA government in the form of setting up the project monitoring group (PMG) in the cabinet secretariat had resulted in investments of nearly Rs 3 lakh crore in projects that had not moved due to various bottlenecks, with green hurdles being the most common complaint. But, the PMG is dealing with held up projects involving investments of close to Rs 18-20 lakh crore. The latest attempt by the PMO comes at a time when several central ministries are complaining that states have been slow in according approvals. The West Bengal government was sitting on proposals to allow mining in over half-a-dozen blocks, which were cleared recently after the coal ministry approached it .

Following Misra's advisory, aviation secretary V Somasundaran has asked all agencies under his ministry such as Airports Authority of India, DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to compile the list and submit it to his office by Wednesday. Sources say the delayed Navi Mumbai airport could top the list as this is among the most critical pending issues.

Courtesy: The Times of India
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