Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Clearing Projects Worth 20 Lakh Crores Could Be Narendra Modi's First Task

As Narendra Modi gets ready to take charge, a top bureaucrat in the Cabinet Secretariat has told NDTV that the new Prime Minister's priority could be to fast-track more than 430 projects worth a staggering Rs. 20 lakh crore, a legacy of the policy paralysis of the last days of the UPA government.

Anil Swarup, Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, heads the Project Monitoring Group, a mechanism created last year to coordinate between warring ministries. He says the main reasons for the massive backlogs during the UPA's tenure were delays in green clearances, as well as the cabinet's lack of urgency in clearing coal supplies to power projects.

Mr Swarup says in the past nine months they have cleared over 150 projects worth roughly Rs. 5 lakh crore, mostly in power, cement, steel and infrastructure, an achievement which the UPA failed to leverage during the election campaign.
Mr Modi has already started meeting with the Cabinet Secretary, as well as with individual secretearies of key economic ministries to gauge the extent of the backlog. Given this early start, Mr Swarup is confident that the new government will continue the group that he heads. "I think any government would want to fast-track these projects as they do impact the economy."