Projects Need Political Will

Projects Need Political Will

The fiscal year FY23 concluded with a construction rate of 28.3 km/day, resulting in a total of 10,331 km of highways built, slightly below the target of 12,500 km. In the previous year, FY22, approxim...

The fiscal year FY23 concluded with a construction rate of 28.3 km/day, resulting in a total of 10,331 km of highways built, slightly below the target of 12,500 km. In the previous year, FY22, approximately 10,457 km of highways were constructed at a rate of 28.64 km per day against a target of 12,200 km. As discussed in this column, the actual situation on the ground differs from the ambitious targets presented. While various reasons such as monsoon delays have been cited for the slowdown, a thorough investigation is necessary to uncover the true causes. The Ministry has called for a more in-depth analysis, and we await the findings. These targets are also set to create a sense of grandeur. Under the Parvatmala Pariyojana, the minister announced plans to develop 250+ projects with a Ropeway length exceeding 1,200+ km over a span of 5 years. The minister emphasised the focus on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) under the Hybrid Annuity Model, with 60 per cent contribution support from the Government of India. Additionally, the promotion of ropeway component manufacturing under the Make in India initiative was a priority. During a visit to Austria, the minister invited Austrian manufacturers to invest in ropeway systems. These initiatives require out-of-the-box thinking and determination, which can only come from top leadership. Ropeways have the potential to be game-changers, particularly for the North East and hilly regions, if safety can be assured. Currently, only a few small players have invested in such systems for tourist attractions, and a few accidents have influenced public perception. However, Indians have experienced robust ropeway systems during their vacations in the Swiss mountains and other locations in Western Europe and America NHAI has begun accepting Bid Security and Performance Security in the form of e-BG issued by various banks through the NeSL platform. NHAI is also considering the use of Insurance Surety Bonds as an additional method for submitting Bid Security and/or Performance Security Deposit. While the road sector has readjusted its targets, the railways have achieved an all-time high of 5,243 km of track laying in 2022-23 compared to 2,909 km in 2021-22. The average track laying rate reached 14.4 km per day. The railways are also rapidly progressing towards accomplishing the mission of 100 per cent electrification and becoming the world's largest green railway network. However, the question arises whether the pace, for both railways and roads, will be maintained as we approach the upcoming general elections. Will the commitment to maintaining the pace waver under the distractions of elections? Delays in projects are not unfamiliar, as evidenced by an official report indicating that out of 1,566 infrastructure projects, 384 have experienced cost overruns exceeding Rs.4.66 trillion in the January- March 2023 quarter. Even the new Parliament building, inaugurated by the PM, faced a challenge regarding the grant of Environmental Clearance. Finally, on January 5, 2021, the Supreme Court gave the green signal to the `13,500-crore Central Vista revamp project. Just a month ago, the Telangana CM inaugurated the Secretariat building in Hyderabad, standing 265 feet tall and covering 10.5 lakh square feet in a sprawling 28-acre area. Although the CM laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Secretariat on June 27, 2019, the works only commenced in January 2021 due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, court cases, and other issues. Hence, both projects obtained clearance through the courts in January 2021 and were completed in just over 25 months. These projects benefited from the support of influential offices. When there is political will, there is a way.

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