In a break from the past, the Narendra Modi government has asked ministries to fix deadlines and detailed timelines of all projects and proposals, right down to the tentative dates for receiving cabinet approvals for each scheme.
The onus of setting the deadlines will be on the ministries themselves with the Prime Minister monitoring the progress of projects.
“Since taking charge, the PM has made this point time and again in various meetings held to review the performance of infrastructure and social sector ministries.
This is a marked departure from the past where deadlines were set and then forgotten,” said a senior bureaucrat.
The new system is already having an impact. Last week, the urban development ministry set a December 18 and December 31 deadline respectively for finalizing the draft cabinet note and getting cabinet approval for developing 100 smart cities across India.
Similarly, the human resource development ministry has directed vice-chancellors of all central universities to fill up vacant teaching positions by December end.
In addition to setting deadlines, senior bureaucrats say Modi’s insistence on holding regular review meetings of key infrastructure and social sector projects has also build pressure on officials.
“Because of strict timelines and frequent review meetings taken by the PM himself, we are on our toes. We can’t go and tell the PM the same thing every meeting. This has had a cascading effect with officials on the ground chasing targets diligently unlike in the UPA regime where targets were forgotten in the absence of infrequent follow up,” said a bureaucrat of an infrastructure ministry.
Since taking over on May 26, Modi has reviewed the performance of infrastructure ministries thrice. A fourth meeting is scheduled on November 5. In between, Nripendra Misra, principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), has held several rounds of follow-up meetings.
In a presentation to the PM Last week, the UD ministry fixed a December 15 deadline for getting cabinet approval for the heritage cities urban modernization scheme and a December 25 target to launch it. A November 30 deadline was also set for receiving the approval of the cabinet for urban renewal mission in 500 cities with a population of over one lakh.
The department of industrial policy and promotion has set timelines for reforms to improve India’s ranking in ease of doing business. The highways ministry has set a 2016 deadline for achieving the target of building 30 km of roads per day.
Sources said during presentations made by different ministries, the PM has asked all departments to take up a few components from each scheme that could be easily implemented with visible results, rather than trying to handle everything at one go.