Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed government departments to prepare a list of infrastructure projects delayed due to different decisions of courts and tribunals and asked them to also assess the losses incurred to the exchequer by such time overruns.
The PM’s direction came at the last meeting of the Pragati where he reviewed progress of eight infrastructure projects— six rail and road projects (three each) and two relating to the power sector.
The minutes of the Pragati meeting held on August 25 with regard to the Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Beri New Rail Line project says, “Environment and forest, railways and road transport and highways ministries in consultation with law and justice ministry should identify decisions of courts, NGT etc., related to land acquisition, forest or other clearances which are causing delay in infrastructure project. The cabinet secretary should monitor such exercise. A list of delayed projects due to court decisions, including loss incurred to the exchequer, may also be prepared.”
Several infrastructure projects have been held up across the country due to pending court cases over land acquisition and environmental issues like the Char Dham highway project in Uttarakhand.
The PM also directed the railway ministry to devise a hybrid system while planning and building rail tunnels in hilly areas so that road tunnels can also be built together. Sources said this integration will reduce project cost. Earlier, the PM had directed both the road and railway ministries to work together on this aspect while chairing a review of infrastructure sectors.
The minutes also mention that a list of projects delayed substantially should be prepared and those responsible identified. “The cabinet secretary should prepare a list of projects which are delayed substantially and identify responsible authorities, agencies and officials for such delay. The list may be submitted within a week,” the minutes said.
Sources said though timely completion of infrastructure projects has been the focus of the government, this has become all the more important with the Centre setting an ambitious target to monetise completed projects. For example, the projection to monetise 26,700 km of completed NHs by 2025 to generate Rs 1.6 lakh crore is based on the stretches that are scheduled for completion over the next three years.
The government has also set up an informal group of ministers to monitor progress with regard to the decisions taken at Pragati meetings.