In charge of both roads & rlys, Joshi looks to remove project roadblocks

Written by Timsy Jaipuria | Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 28 2012, 07:19am hrs
Constant delays in getting project approvals from the railway ministry has been troubling the road ministry for quite some time. But the roadblock seems to have been removed with both the departments now being headed by the same minister CP Joshi. In the first meeting that the minister of road transport and highways took after assuming the additional charge of the railways, officials of both the ministries were asked to push for speedy clearances of projects, especially those of railway overbridges.

Only 46 projects out of 85 were cleared in the last two years by the railway ministry. To fast-track the remaining projects, the minister has instructed for a dedicated system and a design team to do the analysis in advance and keep in mind a possible extension later on as well, a source present at the meeting told FE.

Joshi has also asked other bottlenecks in the way of other railway and road projects to be cleared. In the past, there have been several bureaucratic hurdles leading to delays in infrastructural projects, said a senior railways official.

Joshi, who is the first Congress minster to assume charge of the railways in 16 years, has also decided to spend the first half of the day in the railway ministry and the second half in the road ministry so that he can give equal attention to both the ministries.

Of late, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to fast track infrastructure projects that have been further implemented by various meetings under finance ministry. Finding a solution to the policy paralysis in the infrastructure sector is the top priority of the UPA government. The government, according to reports, is deciding to set up a Project Clearance Board (PCB) on the lines of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for speedy implementation of the energy and infrastructure projects in a time-bound manner. The board will meet on a monthly basis under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary and will have representatives from the ministries of home, defence, environment & forests, commerce, coal, department of space and other infrastructure and energy-related ministries and departments.

Finance minister P Chidambaram has also shifted the focus to clear infrastructure projects worth lakhs of crores that are stuck due to pending ministerial approvals. From around 109 pending clearances, nearly 76 projects need regulatory clearances, 33 need nods from state governments and banks, while 22 projects are yet to achieve financial closures.