More than a month after the Prime Minister’s Office identified 17 projects as marquee to be pushed on a priority basis, the first six have missed their deadlines.
A tight six-month schedule had been set for successive targets in these key infrastructure projects in aviation, power and highways for construction work to begin, in consultation with the ministries concerned. A status check shows not one of the 17 has got going. Each project is worth close to a billion dollar each.
The news belies the optimism displayed by PM Manmohan Singh in his intervention in Parliament on Friday on a turnaround in the economy.
As the chart shows, the Airports Authority of India and Civil Aviation Ministry are unlikely to meet the target of awarding Kolkata and Chennai airports to private bidders by May next year. “We will not be able to meet the target set by the PMO. We are now in the process of preparing the RFQ (request for qualification), which would require us to hire consultants,” sources said.
Since getting a workable RFQ is likely to take about a month, it will have a cascading impact on the subsequent deadlines. Hence, the schedule for award of the airport projects too is likely to be missed.
The Navi Mumbai airport project in Mumbai is also unlikely to be awarded by January next, as it has already missed its deadline for issue of RFQ. “Land acquisition is still continuing and we have some meetings lined up next week. The RFQ will be issued the moment we acquire land for the project,” said a top official of CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd).
In the road sector, three expressway projects have not seen much movement. “The State Support Agreement with Uttar Pradesh for the Delhi-Meerut expressway project is likely to be signed in the first week of September,” said a senior Road Transport Ministry official. They were to ink it a fortnight ago.
Not just timely completion, the viability of these projects is also under question now. “There is a concern over the viability of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) project. This has made us cautious and slowed down the pace,” said a senior official of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The EPE was to be awarded by December this year and Delhi-Meerut and Mumbai-Vadodara Expressways were to be awarded by March next year.
Similarly the Ultra Mega Power Projects in Orissa and Tamil Nadu have missed their RFQ issue deadlines. The standard bidding documents for the award of these projects are still being processed.
Hoping to speed up these projects, the PMO had set a calendar for each of these projects to ensure that intermediate steps were completed on time. Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Pulok Chatterji had also directed the ministries to nominate a nodal officer each, of the rank of joint secretary, to report the progress of the projects on a weekly basis.
PMO deadline status
* Eastern Peripheral Expressway:
Issue of RFQ by Aug 15 Missed
* Delhi-Meerut Expressway: SSA* with UP by Aug 16 Missed
* Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway:
Issue of RFQ by Sept 6 Unlikely
*C Navi Mumbai Airport: Issue of RFQ by Aug 16 Missed
* Kolkata, Chennai airports: Issue of RFQ by Aug 15 Missed
* UMPPs in Orissa and TN: Issue of RFQ by Aug 23 Missed
*State Support Agreement
Source: Government data