After fast-tracking clearances for a host of oil exploration and power projects, the government has now set its sight on infrastructure development projects in border areas that have remained neglected due to the complex nature of clearances required.
The Prime Minister-headed cabinet committee on investment (CCI) is likely to take up several projects of power sector PSUs such as NHPC, NTPC, Powergrid, SJVNL besides government agencies such as Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and railways for priority clearance. This is to ensure that infrastructure development in sensitive border areas keeps pace with strategic requirements of the region while investment flows help these under developed regions to prosper.
Sources said the power ministry has already forwarded a list of close to 20 projects in border areas that are languishing for want of clearances for last six to seven years.
The empowered committee on Border Infrastructure headed by cabinet secretary in May this year discussed BRO and railway projects and filtered out projects that need intervention at the topmost level for consideration of the CCI.
In fact, the CCI could also direct the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to ease clearance process by clubbing the appraisal process of the forest advisory committee, expert appraisal committee and the Standing Committee of National Board to curtail delays.
Besides, the defence ministry and BRO may be asked to give directions to their field units dealing with infra projects for expeditious submission of compliance report to MoEF.
A proposal to allow BRO to start work on a project after getting stage-I forest clearance would also be taken up while the agency may be allowed to get stage-II clearance for projects quickly if the MoEF doesn't impose specific conditions.
“Fast tracking of clearance for border infrastructure is of strategic importance as neighbouring countries such as China are building projects near these sensitive areas at a rapid pace and we have to keep pace with these developments” said a government official privy to the development.
“Most of these border projects face delays on account of environment and forest clearance