Priority to ‘unlock delayed and stuck projects’, says Montek

Ports in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, an elevated rail corridor in Mumbai, and locomotive projects in Bihar are among the key infrastructure projects to be kicked off in six months. This was decided at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister here on Friday.

“The Government can roll out public-private partnership (PPP) projects worth at least Rs 1 lakh crore during the next six months. The Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office will monitor these projects. All the Ministries are committed to the projects,” said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, during a presentation at the meeting called to set the 2013-14 target for infrastructure sectors.

Delays

The meeting also reviewed the 2012-13 targets. Ahluwalia said the power sector had done well, while the road sector had seen a lot of slippage. The performance in ports and airports was satisfactory, while the Railways faced a challenge of funds, he said. The “biggest priority is to unlock delayed and stuck projects,” he added.

To address fuel issues related to natural gas in the power sector, the Petroleum Ministry will soon move a note to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) that is likely to propose sharing of natural gas among various sectors. Currently, the demand for natural gas is 90 million standard cubic metres, while domestic availability is just 20 mscm.

And there is another problem. First, the fertiliser sector gets top priority in gas allocation followed by power. Second, even if the power sector is willing to import gas at high prices, it cannot be supplied to all the areas.

“Sharing of domestic natural gas between fertiliser and power plants that supply power on administrative price is one possibility, because gas-based power plants have invested a lot of money,” Ahluwalia said.

Road sector

As for the road sector, Ahluwalia said discussions were on with the Finance and Road Ministries to set separate targets for projects executed under BOT (build-own-transfer), EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and annuity basis. The effort is to reverse the slowdown in awarding public-private partnership projects, he added.

shishir.sinha@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 28, 2013)
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