Policy inertia, coupled with stalling of projects due to delays in environment clearance and land acquisition, has slowed investment and trimmed the GDP growth rate from 9.3% in FY11 to decade's low of 5% in FY13 and 4.6% in H1 of FY14. The investment cycle, however, may see an uptick in the coming months with the government speeding up stalled projects. After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted the project monitoring group (PMG) in June, about 120 projects with investments worth close to Rs 4 lakh crore have been cleared.
Another 230-odd projects are pending clearances. Anil Swarup, head of PMG and additional secretary at the cabinet secretariat, tells Raj Kumar Ray that a lot more needs to be done to ensure investments start picking up so that the GDP growth gathers momentum. Irrespective of whoever comes to power in 2014, Swarup feels the panel is likely to continue functioning as a facilitator for clearing stalled projects.
The PMG was constituted in June. What's the status in terms of number of stalled projects referred to the cell and how many of them have been cleared so far?
Let me explain the mechanism. Anyone who is facing a delay in project has to submit the details on PMG's portal. We have 12 sub-groups that meet periodically (three of these every week) with representatives from the respective ministries and industry (the concerned company).
We hold meetings with all the stakeholders — line ministries, company involved and even bankers — to resolve the issue. We have created a platform where attempts are made to resolve issues through process of consultation with various stakeholders. PMG doesn’t take a decision. We are facilitators. In case the issues are not resolved at the level of these sub-groups, they are taken up by the concerned ministries to the cabinet committee on investment (CCI). That's the protocol.
We started with about 70 stalled projects in June-July. That number has gone up to about 388 now, involving investment of close to Rs 16.98 lakh crore. Of the total cases referred, the PMG along with CCI and CCEA have facilitated clearance for 120 projects, involving a total investment of close to Rs 4 lakh crore. About 20 projects were dropped, no action can be taken because the matter is either subjudice or are of the nature that they cannot be taken up by the PMG (such as allocation of domestic