Road ministry works with states for smooth takeoff of projects

Written by Timsy Jaipuria | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 27 2013, 05:45am hrs
In a bid to reduce highway project bottlenecks, the ministry of road transport and highways is taking initiatives to improve coordination with various state governments.

The ministry is soon going to propose setting up of a committee where state-level officials of the road development, environment, land acquisition, PWDs and other administrative department representatives along with a nodal official of the regional NHAI office will review the status of projects in each state.

Such meetings would check the status of projects and the help understand the level of their maturity.

The ministry is understood to have mooted this proposal as an initiative to resolve the hindrances in the speedy and seamless construction of national highways.

Experts say this would increase accountability of states and help in detecting the exact cause of bottlenecks.

The committee will be answerable for the delays, for providing clearances and in checking the construction bottlenecks. It will also have to submit its report to the Centre from time to time. In case of EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) projects, the funds will be released to the developer in a phased manner as and when the project moves towards completion, the source said.

The move comes after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Cabinet secretary took steps to fast-track the statutory clearances.

A committee of secretaries, which met on Monday, had decided that within two weeks all infrastructure ministries will submit a list of delayed projects citing the reason for the delays as well. Simultaneously, a new team has been set within the Cabinet Secretariat to review these projects on a weekly basis.

The government has estimated that infrastructure projects worth more than R700,000 crore are stuck due to policy or regulatory hurdles.

The Prime Minister had chaired a meeting on June 1 to discuss the issue, after which directions have been given to create an institutional mechanism to track stalled investment projects, both in the public and private sectors.

This will also help bankers in easing their increasing NPA (non-performing asset) woes and the ministry will now be able to work out the exact time and cost overruns being faced by these projects along with the action required to remove the bottlenecks, the source added.

The Prime Minister's Office is understood to have already compiled a list of about 215 delayed projects of ministries like road, coal, power, and shipping where banks have put in more than R700,000 crore.