Over a year after rolling out the PM Gati Shakti initiative to cut delays and cost overruns involving large infrastructure projects, the government is on an aggressive capacity-building drive. It has identified more than 100 universities across 32 states to offer courses on Gati Shakti and create trained manpower to handle various aspects of the multi-modal connectivity infrastructure that this programme envisages, official sources told FE.
“This is going to be one of the biggest drives to create capacity for a single government programme. It signals the importance that the government attaches to co-ordinated infrastructure planning and execution,” said an official.
At the same time, the government has already organised over 50 workshops in recent months to train its own officials across key infrastructure departments to better implement this programme.
Creating a vast pool of trained manpower in the coming years will help not just the government but also private sector players who are engaged in the infrastructure sector, said the official. The Gati Shakti initiative is being spearheaded by the department for the promotion of industry and internal trade.
The PM GatiShakti National Master Plan was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 13 last year. It is essentially a GIS-based platform with 1,994 layers (and rising) that captures all utilities and network linkages in various economic clusters. Under this initiative, different departments join hands for a coordinated development of projects, especially to address first and last-mile connectivity issues and reduce logistics costs.
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Trained manpower and capacity building assume importance, as the government has come out with a new logistics policy to trim such costs to about 8% of GDP from 13-14% now in five years to bolster trade competitiveness. It has also set ambitious medium-term targets for various infrastructure ministries, which are to be realised by effective implementation of large projects through the Gati Shakti initiative.
For instance, the cumulative highways construction under the ministry of road transport is now targeted to be raised to 200,000 km by FY25 from 141,190 km in the last fiscal. Similarly, the freight loading by the railways will be enhanced to 1,600 million tonnes by FY25 from 1,410 million tonnes in FY22.
The number of airports, heliports, water aerodromes, including those under the UDAN scheme, are targeted to be increased to 220 by FY25 from 140 in FY22. The cargo handing at ports is to be raised to 1,759 million tonne per annum (MTPA) from 1,189 MTPA. The 20,000-km-long oil and gas pipeline network in the country will be extended to 34,500 km by FY25.
Through the Gati Shakti initiative, the government intends to bridge India’s infrastructure deficit which owes more to inefficient project implementation rather than financial constraints.
According to the official data, as many as 393 infrastructure projects, each entailing an investment of Rs 150 crore or above, witnessed cost overruns of as much as Rs 4.66 trillion until August. While the total original cost of 1,526 projects that are under execution was Rs 21.26 trillion, their anticipated completion cost is now likely to shoot up to Rs 25.92 trillion, reflecting a cost overrun of almost 22%.