PMO looks to fast-track Re1-L-cr infra projects to jumpstart economy

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 20 2013, 11:23am hrs
On a day when the Prime Minister said no stone would be left unturned to ensure that the economy recovers, a steering group chaired by the Prime Ministers principal secretary Pulok Chatterji asked infrastructure ministries to expedite clearance for projects worth R1 lakh crore in the aviation, road, railways and power sectors. The idea is to roll out these projects over the next six months and spur investment-led demand in the sputtering economy.

In its first meeting on Friday, the steering group decided that bidding for the R30,000-crore Mumbai elevated rail corridor will begin immediately after the state support agreement is signed over next couple of months. The 534-km Sonnagar-Dankuni section of the eastern railway freight corridor, and construction of an electric locomotive factory at Madhepura and a diesel locomotive factory at Marhowrah (both in Bihar) are the other projects that would be expedited. For the Marhowrah project, the request for qualification will be issued in August, a source privy to the steering groups decisions said.

The group also decided to expedite the work on the countrys first national expressway, the 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway connecting Sonipat (Kundli), Ghaziabad and Palwal in the National Capital Region and directed the shipping ministry to award one major port at Sagar in West Bengal over next few months expeditiously after securing necessary clearances.

Sources said that the steering group decided to fast-track completion of work at the 2,000 MW Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and also directed the power ministry to expedite the process of awarding a 4,000 MW ultra mega power project in Orissa once an empowered group of ministers cleared the standard bidding document for such projects later this month. The UMPP project has been stuck for the last couple of years.

Earlier in the day, speaking at the annual conference of industry body Assocham, Singh said that the government has plans for setting up two major ports, one in Andhra Pradesh and the other in West Bengal, adding that new airports would come up in Navi Mumbai, Juhu, Goa, Pune and Kannur. The feasibility of a bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is being studied.

Industrial corridors from Delhi to Mumbai, Amritsar to Kolkata and Chennai to Bangalore are being considered, Singh said.

For the aviation sector, the steering group prioritised the award of airport modernisation projects at Kolkata and Chennai. Like in Delhi, these projects would be taken up on a public-private-partnership (PPP) model.

The government constituted the steering committee after a June 28 meeting chaired by the Prime Minister to iron out bottlenecks impeding implementation of mega infrastructure projects. The meeting approved annual targets for infrastructure sector ministries and decided to put in a system of quarterly monitoring of these targets.

In the case of the Mumbai elevated rail corridor project, the main hurdle has been that the state support agreement with the Maharashtra government is yet to be signed. This would now be expedited. Similarly, in the case of the eastern railway freight corridor project to be built at a cost of Rs 15,000 crore on the PPP model, the railways has not been able to find any investors.