Govt’s new target: Rs 1.15 lakh crore infra projects

NEW DELHI (TIP)In a fresh attempt to provide a push to the infrastructure sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday set a target to roll out projects worth Rs 1.15 lakh crore in public-private-partnership mode by the end of this calendar year, including setting up 60 airports and upgrading Bhubaneswar and Imphal to international status at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore.

The other major projects include monitoring the construction of Mumbai’s Rs 30,000 crore elevated rail corridor and power and transmission projects worth Rs 40,000 crore. The targets were set at a meeting called by Singh to finalise infrastructure projects for 2013-14. It was attended by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and ministers of power, coal, railways, roads, shipping and civil aviation.

However, for the second straight year, the Prime Minister’s infrastructure review did not set a target for the road sector, which failed to reach its goal of 9,500 km for 2012- 13. “The Prime Minister has highlighted the need to ramp up investment in infrastructure to revive investor sentiment. For this purpose, a target of rolling out PPP projects of at least Rs 1 lakh crore in the next six months was set. A steering group is being formed to monitor the award and implementation of projects from among the following on priority,” a government statement said.

The list, however, shows that many projects flagged last year have not moved much. For instance, the list of eight greenfield airport projects to be awarded this year include three announced last year Navi Mumbai, Goa and Kannur.

The new ones are in Pune, Sriperumbudur, Bellary, Juhu (Mumbai) and Raigarh. Of the Rs 1.15 lakh crore announced Friday, railway projects account for Rs 45,000 crore followed by power at Rs 40,000 crore. The statement quoted the Prime Minister as saying that a lot of work still needs to be done and there should be no slackening of the pace of work to award projects or to complete them.

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The target set by the Prime Minister did not enthuse industry leaders. “Setting targets is a little old fashioned as we all know that these are not usually met. The main focus must be to go behind these targets and see why projects are stalled. If the meeting had focused on the stalled projects with the Cabinet Committee on Investment, it would have been more productive,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman and managing director, Feedback Infrastructure.

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