Vigil on infrastructure
Stung by the poor implementation record of infrastructure projects, especially roads and highways, over in the past five years, the government is setting up an institutional mechanism to monitor the progress of public-private-partnership (PPP) projects.
For each project, there will be monthly progress reports on the time-frame of implementation, financial closures (tying up of funds), resolution of glitches in operations, user charges and the level of service that users enjoy.
The issue was discussed in detail at the last meeting of the Interministerial Group (IMG) on infrastructure.
A two-tier mechanism has been proposed, one to monitor projects under execution and another to review performance in adhering to goals in running the projects. Monthly progress will be tracked in each case.
The performance review unit, which will be set up at the level of the sponsoring ministry or at the state level, will be headed by an officer of the rank of a Joint Secretary and will monitor all PPP projects, such as roads, ports, airports and railways, under its jurisdiction.
“The institutional arrangements should be capable of ensuring that the project authority and the set deadlines are met, delays are minimised and operations commenced as soon as possible,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.
The proposed institutional monitoring mechanism, if implemented, would make mandatory for project developers to file monthly performance review reports.
“These reports shall have particular focus on any non-compliance relating to provisions of the relevant contract, highlight areas of concern and steps required by authorities to implement contract provisions,” the official said.
Infrastructure projects, particularly roads and highways, have been dogged by long delays and large cost overruns.
The Comptroller and Auditor General said in a recent report that cost and time overruns also occurred because the
National Highways Authority of India failed to prepare a strategic plan to monitor progress of projects. This coupled with delays in award of work and in acquisition of land, and issue of orders changing the terms of projects led to delays in completion of the projects, it had said.