PMG - Focus on Resolving Infrastructure Conundrum

Two recent developments which have indeed drawn the attention of the captains of infrastructure industry, are the timely constitution of the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) and the Project Monitoring Group (PMG). While both are complementary and supplementary to each other, they have a distinct role and functions. The genesis of these developments has been the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister to discuss and institutionalize mechanisms to fast track stalled infrastructure projects falling in the public and private sector domain and awaiting timely clearances and approvals from various agencies. While CCI looks on investment issues to restart the investment cycle which has been petering out since 2010-11. The focus of the PMG is to monitor stalled projects and to speed up delivery mechanism.

Welcoming these initiatives, some of the captains of the industry view them as the most positive developments in sharp contrast to earlier practices. The impact of these developments is producing results, they affirm, adding that fortunately today we have a transparent and fixed resolution process clearing logjams settled around infrastructure projects, thus ending our growing unease on the current slowdown spell largely due to stalled projects. If such systems, both CCI and PMG had been placed much earlier, then the country would not have lost its growth momentum, they assert.

Anil Swarup
Anil Swarup
Additional Secretary & Chairman PMG
Giving his overview of the functions of PMG, Mr. Anil Swarup, Additional Secretary & Chairman PMG in his free-wheeling conversation with S.A. Faridi and S.K Khanna, said that the task before the group is to monitor all large infrastructure projects both in public and private sector domain and proactively pursue them so that these investment projects can be commissioned on time. The group has presently at hand 244 projects involving an investment of Rs.12.5 lakh-cr (US$210 billion). The number is growing by the day. While some of the roadblocks in the way are in the domain of authorities at the Central level, a large number of impediments lie in the domain of state governments and local bodies for which there is a mechanism in place to expedite them.

He further informed that there is an online CCI Projects Tracking System in place for tracking projects. In case of the need to fast track the project, the developer can go to the website and furnish all the details and issues needed to be addressed. By logging on to www.cabsec.nic.in, the developers can directly get in touch with PMG who in turn would find out tripartite solutions to the problems of the developers. Once these issues are identified, tripartite Sub-Groups attempt to resolve them. Twelve such Sub-Groups have already been constituted. They comprise sponsoring ministry, the recipient department and the PMG. Developers and other stakeholders in the projects are invited and all issues are discussed threadbare in a transparent manner. Action points are finalized and posted on the website for the information of the developers/entrepreneurs. In a span of 3 months, the group has been able to facilitate clearance of 38 projects involving an investment of Rs.1.51 lakh-cr. The list includes 17 power projects with an investment of over Rs.95,000cr and has been able to tie up fuel supply issue. The held up projects, which have been cleared, are part of 244 projects with total investment of over Rs.12.5 lakh-cr and are being monitored regularly by the PMG.

Project List of PMG

As nearly 50% of the infrastructure issues relate to states and local bodies, teams from centre including PMG officials regularly visit the states and actively interact with the State officials, Chief Secretaries and related officials and PMG system provides this common forum to discuss these issues. As such, PMG is not involved in arranging funds but facilitates financing options. According to Mr. Swarup, "The entire process of monitoring is very transparent and discussions are held in a frank and candid environment with genuine attempt to resolve the issues confronting the developers at local level including fixing time frame for implementing decision arrived at."

Project Clearance

Rounding up the conversation, Mr. Swarup disclosed how the last hurdle for the opening of five star hotels that formed a part of the Aerocity Projects, the hospitality district near IGIA stuck up for a long time was sorted out through the intervention of PMG as a facilitator and solution provider providing the much needed platform to bring all the stakeholders of the projects on board.

There is no better way to revive infrastructure growth and investment confidence than fixing problems in infrastructure-friendly environment to resolve infrastructure conundrum, injecting transparency, accountability, and efficiency as enshrined in PMG mandate, thus reducing discretions and dilly dallying in the clearance and approval process.
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