Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently called himself a 'hard taskmaster', has set his ministers a minimum 10% target for enhancing existing infrastructure in their areas of responsibility by the end of the financial year.
And he plans to keep an eye on them. The task of monitoring the performance of ministries has been given to the Planning Commission, and later to the think tank that replaces it.
The government is currently giving shape to the think tank but has already decided on some of its functions, one of which will be to oversee the implementation of the PM's innovations such as Digital India, Skill India and Swacch Bharat, senior government officials said. It would be required to submit regular reports to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
The PMO's direction, quoting Modi, to ministries to add 10% to existing physical infrastructure and services provided by then by March 2015 would translate into mobile services for half of India's rural villages, a minimum 80% literacy level (from the current 72%) and 19% gross enrolment ratio in higher education (17% now).
The road transport ministry headed by Nitin Gadkari will have to add 7,700km of new roads and highways compared to its target of 7,000km. The PM wants 500km of new railway tracks instead of the 300km target presented by railway minister Sadanand Gowda. Similarly, targets for civil aviation and shipping ministries have also been upped.
"This is the minimum the PMO has prescribed," a government official said, adding that anything over and above would add to the annual performance of ministers and secretaries.
A union minister who refused to be named said the initiative would push them to achieve more. "The Prime Minister is targeting us to do more for the country, and we will try our best. We, as well as the bureaucrats, will be under pressure but it will help us deliver."
The PMO has told plan panel secretary Sindhushree Khullar to prepare a template for reviewing the performance of ministries with the new target in mind. Monitoring divisions of the panel are being strengthened with staff from other units. "We believe the divisions entrusted with monitoring will continue their job till the new think tank is in place," another senior official said.
Khullar has already made a presentation on the performance of core infrastructure ministries for 2014-15 and deliberated on targets suggested by them for the fiscal.