The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), charged with the responsibility of monitoring infrastructure projects worth Rs 1.5 billion or more, has released a report for June 2019 according to which – out of the total 1608 projects, more than 360 have shown cost overruns to the cost of Rs 3.88 trillion.
The Supreme Court has approved the revised norms for infrastructure road projects that delink the environment and forest clearances - formulated by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) last month to end the face-off between the environment and forests ministry and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). On the basis of its interpretation of a judgment in the case of Lafarge, the ministry had insisted such projects should take environment and forest clearances.
The Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on May 24 relaxed forest clearance norms for national highway projects. It is a major step towards removing hurdles to implementing national highway projects. It decided to give 'special exemptions' on forestry clearances. For linear projects, it said it would de-link the grant of environment clearances from forest clearances.
Delays in environment and forest clearance and land acquisition have contributed a lot in causing slackened progress in road building. The Parliament was informed on April 25. The progress of construction of National Highways has been slow due to several problems such as land acquisition, shifting of utilities, environmental and forest clearance, as well as manpower and economic slowdown, Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Tushar A Chaudhary said in the Rajya Sabha.
With the Prime Minister’s Office stepping in to resolve the row between the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over forest clearances to highway projects, the NHAI has communicated that the ball is now in the ministry’s court.
Seeking modification of its guidelines mandating forest clearance prior to environmental clearance, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on January 9 moved the Supreme Court, saying the related procedures have delayed and stalled 22 important projects worth over Rs 20,000 crore.