The government is set to fast-track infrastructure projects spanning across expressways, ports and railways worth more than Rs 1,00,000 crore in a move seen by many as a clear sign to shrug off growing criticism of policy inaction that is hurting the broader economy amid a crippling industrial slowdown.
Over Rs 1.5 lakh crore is currently locked up in road and petroleum sector projects, said Arvind Mayaram, secretary, economic affairs, at a function held by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Tuesday.
The Cabinet is set to approve several of these projects over the next couple of weeks.
Rising prices and sliding growth remain key worries for the government, already battling a heavy debt burden. It is hoping that fast-pacing infrastructure projects will help revive the sagging economy by spin off effects on jobs and income.
The government is also planning to put in place a mechanism to ensure that major public sector undertakings including ONGC, NMDC, Oil India and BHEL, which are sitting on large cash reserves, would start investing in a time-bound manner.
Finance minister P Chidambaram would also hold a meeting with chiefs of public sector undertakings on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
"Even if the Cabinet approval comes now, it will take some time before it is finally executed," AM Naik, chairman and managing director, L&T told HT. "What is required is that current projects, which have already received necessary approvals, must be executed at the earliest."
The infrastructure committee set up under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must have representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Assocham and FICCI to understand the problems from the ground level, he added.
"This would provide a massive fillip to the economy and now the government is clearly showing the intention that it is willing to walk the talk," Rajiv Kumar, secretary-general, FICCI, told HT.
In specially-convened meeting in June, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told ministerial colleagues to go the "extra mile" for implementing infrastructure projects.