The joke on the street – if a project, maybe a road or a railway track is mooted to be built in two years, be assured it will surely get ready for your to-be-born child to use! This is just like the letter from Indian Post coming with the news of the new-born after the infant has celebrated its first birthday.
Well, the Indian Post has surely improved and letters do get delivered on time yet projects, especially those started by the Govt – be it state or central, go on for years and years and years. One road will be dug up during summer for repair work before monsoon but it does not get ready even after monsoon goes and winter goes, another summer comes and once again monsoon comes. That somehow, just has not changed; in fact it has got worse.
A project is announced, it might take a year or two to first get the project outlay and plan approved and then begins the land acquisition and approvals. Ten years has become the norm. And that too if all approvals come in. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation or Mospi as it is more popularly recognized as, has presented a Flash report on project status till end of July 2021. And it’s a very dismal picture and it would be pretty unfair to blame it all on Covid. Take a look….
- This report contains information on the status of the 1781 Central Sector Infrastructure Projects costing Rs.150 crore and above.
- 504 projects are delayed with respect to their original schedules and 89 projects have reported additional delays vis-à-vis their date of completion reported in the previous month. Of these 89 projects, 23 are Mega Projects costing 1000 crore and above.
- Of these 89 projects, the highest count in terms of delay is in Railways, followed by road transport and highways and petroleum and coal.
- 483 projects out of 1,781 projects have reported cost overruns - the total cost all these projects at the time of commissioning was Rs.2.28trn, which is estimated to rise to Rs.2.72trn – an increase of over 19%.
- The amount spent so far on these projects up to July 2021 was Rs.13.2trn, about 48.53% of their anticipated costs.
- For 1,001 of the projects, neither the year of commissioning nor the tentative gestation period has been reported.
- Out of the 1781 projects, 13 projects are ahead of schedule, 263 are on schedule.
- All coal projects have the maximum time over-run.
- Water resources, which has 47 projects under implementation has the maximum cost over-run of over 364%.
The brief reasons for time overruns as reported by various project implementing agencies are:
§ Delay in land acquisition
§ Delay in obtaining forest/environment clearances
§ Lack of infrastructure support & linkages
§ Delay in tie-up of project financing
§ Delay in finalization of detailed engineering, change in scope
§ Delay in tendering
§ Delay in ordering & equipment supply
§ Law & order problems § Geological surprises
§ Pre-commissioning teething troubles and contractual issues.
§ Contractual issues § Inadequate manpower
§ Delay in technical approval § Encroachment
§ State wise lockdown due to COVID 19
The ground to be covered is thus immense and it would be better if, instead of announcing new projects all the time, we actually put all our effort and resources for completing ongoing ones first.