HOOPS AND HURDLES
Anil Swarup, a senior official in the prime minister's office who heads a group that monitors and helps steer projects already cleared, said no companies had complained to his group of a lack of progress. However, he accepted that a fast-tracked project still faced many hurdles, including wrangles over land acquisition and law-and-order problems at a state level.
"We cannot expect an overnight transformation," he said. "In any project, there would be a number of issues and ... until those are resolved, the project does not go on stream."
One beneficiary of last week's project clearances by a cabinet panel was Essar Group, a diversified conglomerate with interests in power, oil and steel. After a 5-year wait, Essar was finally promised environmental approval to develop two coal blocks that will feed a power plant in the state of Jharkhand.
The reaction of one company official, though, was lukewarm. The approval may have come through, but a timeline for when the company can actually start mining was still uncertain. "Funding is linked to the environment clearance to the coal blocks, and banks will release funds once we have all the clearances. The announcement is a positive development, but we have got nothing in our hands, so we will progress on this once everything has been approved," said the official. SHIVERING RUPEE
India's track record for infrastructure development is miserable compared with China and most emerging market economies, and its failure on this score has sapped growth.
The government has targeted spending of $1 trillion on new projects over the five years to 2017, but it has fallen short of previous funding and implementation goals, and much of the country is still plagued by power blackouts and bumpy roads. A land acquisition bill,