1. Infrastructure: Timely project execution happens where there’s political will; Agra-Lucknow Expressway top example

Infrastructure: Timely project execution happens where there’s political will; Agra-Lucknow Expressway top example

he Agra-Lucknow Expressway—expected to reap rich electoral dividend for the ruling Samajwadi Party—has been conceptualised as an integrated project connecting farms and industrial centres to large cities.

By: | Published: November 30, 2016 6:08 AM
Agra Lucknow Expressway, Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, Amitabh Kant, Niti Ayog The Agra-Lucknow Expressway—expected to reap rich electoral dividend for the ruling Samajwadi Party—has been conceptualised as an integrated project connecting farms and industrial centres to large cities. (Source: PTI)

Timely project execution happens where there is political will. 302 km R15,000 cr Agra-Lucknow Expressway built in record 23 months.

UP’s highway politics
The Agra-Lucknow Expressway—expected to reap rich electoral dividend for the ruling Samajwadi Party—has been conceptualised as an integrated project connecting farms and industrial centres to large cities. The chief minister has proposed another mega road project, the Lucknow-Ballia Purvanchal Expressway to improve  eastern UP’s connectivity with Lucknow and Delhi.

Very disturbing. Official reviews of recent railway accident reveal that more than 84% of train coaches in India are not safe (BusStd).

Safety on Rlys still depends on 100 yr old track patrolling system. 2.2 lac “gangmen” solitarily walk 8 km/day over tracks to spot faults.

Need to prioritise railway safety
In the aftermath of the Indore-Patna Express accident, the Railway Board is putting in place a time-bound strategy to strengthen railway safety. This will include production of anti-collision LHB coaches from 2018, introduction of ultrasonic fault detectors to detect fracture, revamp of training of railway staff and conversion of safety directorate into an auditing body.

Utilisation of country’s 85 lac trucks is down by 40%. Curious what formula NHAI and others will follow on promise to recompense toll loss.

Truck traffic hit by demonetisation
Highway tolling continues to be disrupted and suspension of fee collections has been extended till midnight 2 December. The scrapped R500 notes will be accepted at toll plazas until 15 December. Moves are afoot to install sufficient swipe machines with the help of banks.

Sarkar finding out how much land holding it has. Initial estimates are that 31 of 52 central ministries own 16,701 sq km = 11 times Delhi.

PMO takes stock of available land
The Prime Minister’s Office is monitoring the mammoth land bank exercise which is expected to be completed by early 2017. The government needs large tracts for urbanisation, and the creation of a land bank will also enable it to monetise future infrastructure projects.

ICRA believes R20,000 crs worth of infusion may happen in Infra sector in next 18 months through InvITs enabling unlocking of capital.

Infrastructure funding to see a boost
Infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs) are collective investment vehicles which make investments in infrastructure projects either directly or through special project vehicles (SPVs). Roads, renewables and transmission sectors are expected to benefit from the infusion of funds by InvITs.

Most relevant suggestion: NITI CEO Amitabh Kant pitches for privatisation of all Discoms as the reqd “bold” step for power sector reform.

Pushing for power sector reform
The government’s policymaking arm is pushing for privatisation of state-owned power distribution firms and setting up of independent state electricity regulators. NITI Aayog CEO suggested that such measures would help turn around the struggling electricity distribution sector.

Conflict of Interest: How can UrbanMin appoint DDA ViceChairm as Delhi’s Regulator for Real Estate? Major institutional credibility issue.

A controversial move
The decision has taken many by surprise as DDA is also a developer of real estate projects and falls in the category of promoter, according to the definition laid down in the Real Estate Regulation Act.

—Vinayak Chatterjee is Chairman of Feedback Infra. His Twitter handle: @Infra_VinayakCh
A weekly selection of the author’s tweets— with a brief backgrounder—in the infra space, by Adite Banerjie.

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