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That extra bit for growth

The PM needs to shore up India’s infrastructure to ensure that the numbers do not slip further.

india Updated: Jun 04, 2013, 02:48 IST
Hindustan Times

A day after returning from Japan where he made a strong pitch of India’s economic potential to prospective and current investors, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reportedly decided to set up a task force to kick-start stalled projects. India will require an estimated $1 trillion (about R56 lakh-crore) to upgrade its roads, ports and airports over the next five years.

Time and cost overruns have been a major bane for India’s infrastructure sector hit by fund shortages, environmental concerns and delays in government clearances. From overstretched airports to heavily congested roads, and strained capacity at ports, India’s creaky infrastructure is in striking contrast to the image of a country that is aspiring to be a global economic superpower.

As of October 2012, more than 200 big projects worth R100 crore or more that the Centre monitors month-by-month were running late because of pending clearances at ministries and departments. These projects with investments worth more than R4 lakh-crore, among others, can potentially build thousands of kilometres of highways and connect hundreds of kilometres through India’s railway network besides spinning thousands of new jobs. National income data released last week confirmed what most analysts have always been saying about how India was in the middle of a serious deceleration. One in five dealers in India expect to take a financial loss in 2013, more than double the number compared with 2012, and only 44% of dealers expect to make a profit for the 2012-2013 financial year, according to a survey by JD Power Asia Pacific. The latest national income data show that construction output grew at a sub-par 4.4%, services output slipped to 6.6%, the lowest since the global financial crisis of 2008.

Quick decision-making and speedier implementation are vital to overhaul its collapsing infrastructure, which, if built, could potentially catalyse every sector. Last year the prime minister had asked all ministries to go the ‘extra mile’ for implementing infrastructure projects and very expeditiously resolve any inter-ministerial differences that might arise. It’s now about time to give the extra push for the extra mile on project execution.

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