The capital was taken aback on Sunday, when Reliance Infrastructure — the private agency operating the high-speed Airport Metro Express Line — suspended service for two months. The concessionaire had decided to take the extreme step after detecting cracks in parts of the Metro corridor’s civil structure.
Shocking as it may have seemed, this was no one-off case. Even as private participation has witnessed an increase in public infrastructure projects such as airports, telecom, roads, etc. over the last few years, so have complaints from the public of substandard service.
With an aim to remedy this, the government has set upon creating more accountability in public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed that a system for monitoring all such projects in the central sector be put in place quickly.Sources said following the diktat, the PMO last week cleared a proposal to set up an institutional arrangement to check if there was any malfeasance on the part of the private concessionaire, and ensure that they performed their duty as per the concession agreement.
At present, as many as 243 central sector infrastructure projects under the PPP model — worth R2,60,721 crore — is either under implementation or in the pipeline.
“The modalities of penal action are being worked out. The proposal is likely to be cleared by the cabinet shortly,” said the official.
As per the proposal, all such ministries, departments and project authorities implementing PPP projects will earmark officials for overseeing and monitoring the contract performance. “Every month, they will report the compliance of the concession agreement by the concessionaire. If violations are not reported on time, the officials concerned would be held responsible,” said a source.