By Accommodation Times News Service
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an objective of boosting growth, met the secretaries of nine economic ministries to outline the plan of action to put infrastructure development in top gear over the next 2 years. Meeting with the secretaries of roads and highways, civil aviation, shipping, power, telecom, railways, petroleum, coal, and industries, the focus of the presentation was speedy development of smart cities, ports, roads, special economic zones and corridors like DMRC. Greater infrastructure development by way of building more airports and ports and having better connectivity through the railways was discussed.
Construction of roads remains a top priority with the Centre setting a target of awarding projects for the construction of 8,500 km of highways this fiscal, against 9,638 km in 2013-14. However, the UPA government had managed to award projects for just 3,169 km last year. Of the 8,500 km of highways, 3,500 km would be PPP projects and the remaining would be implemented on the EPC (engineering procurement construction) model where the government provides 100% funding. The target for actual construction of highways in 201415 has been set at 6,300 km.
As many as 189 highway projects with a total cost of around R1, 80,000crore are currently stuck due to problems such as land acquisition issues, clearance delays, etc.
Since availability of power is critical for infrastructure development, issues related to power generation and transmission projects were discussed. “It was pointed out that the biggest challenge today is not power generation but transmission,” a senior government official said. Building gas pipelines to ensure projects don’t suffer from fuel shortage also came up. The official said, presently, over R1lakh crore of investment in gas-based power capacity is suffering due to shortage of gas.
For the railways, it was proposed that 300 km of new track should be laid in the current fiscal. The Indian Railways laid 450 km of new track in 2013-14, short of the targeted 500 km. For the aviation sector, the plan panel proposed lowering the investment target from R1, 008crore in the previous fiscal to R934 crore this year, since investment realization was just about 55% of the target in 201314. A plan to develop airports in non-metro cities was talked about. Other issues that came up for discussion included mobilizing coal from one location to another, increasing rural tele-density and providing undersea fibre optic connectivity to the Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.