Both IPL and poll fever are their peak this month. The hustle and bustle at the hustings has put business on the back burner. Recently, six airport modernisation projects got deferred until after elections due to the election code. The gas price hike also got the short shrift. It is obvious that if the government intended to follow through with either they would have managed to execute them in time prior to implementation of election code, which was no secret. The real reason: MPs and MLAs are not able to spend the amounts assigned to them from the state and centre budgets because they have no 'motivation'. But if development is the plank on which all parties are seeking to position themselves, then gaining voter preference is a motivation in itself! And yet, we have had a huge gap in the spending of allocated amounts. Huge wasteful exercises in the implementation of 'Aadhar' cards, which are now seeming to be a security risk as per the sting operation carried out by an organisation; in food security bills; and Lokpal etc, have taken up precious time in parliament and have contributed little to development and activities, which could have enlivened job prospects.
Meanwhile, the Project Monitoring Group (PMG) headed by Anil Swarup has secured the clearance of projects involving an outlay of nearly Rs 4 lakh crore. At our recently organised 6th India Roads Conference, he stated that transparency and governance were the basic pillars on which successful implementation rested. Besides they have used a consultative approach rather than an instructive one. They themselves have not implemented anything but have been able to resolve issues by a consultative approach. He stated that he was surprised that the road sector had not been as proactive as the coal and power sectors in trying to resolve project clearances through their mechanism. But then that maybe due to the main problem being financial rather than clearance driven. The Project Monitoring Group does not resolve disputes on contracts but helps resolve clearance issues from various authorities.
By July 1, the entire forest and environment clearance process will be online, clearly indicating the status of files at each and every stage for the applicant to view. The environment department has gone through a revolutionary change in the past few months and the same administrative team responsible is now seeming to be facilitative rather than obstructive. The change obviously is driven by the minister and his approach. It is this change that voters recognise and are wishing for in these elections: getting things done rather than playing power games.
The stock markets are defying gravity and are heading north as inward remittances and foreign institutional investments drive the rupee stronger. Our import bill will ease up as will the pressure on RBI. Hopefully the RBI will take a call and ease up the rates, which will give the much-needed relief to the debt burdened industry. The monsoons, which are not expected to bring much cheer this year, could play spoilsport but the relief of getting projects on the implementation track could absorb these minor upsets.
The metro projects that are chugging along in several cities are the focus of our April issue and will give you an insight into the changing urban landscape. These projects will change the gravity in cities and enhance development. As per statistics, 600 cities globally contribute to 20 per cent of global output and such infrastructure projects can enhance their capacity to produce. Our round table on SM@RT CITIES deliberated on various issues which are also presented in this edition.
Here's hoping a smart India votes for the smarer party.