Work on mining, road clearances gathers speed

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Capacity-building will be highlight of super budget

The BJP government, working at breakneck speed to kickstart the economy, is expected to undertake massive infrastructure-building programme in its “super budget” to be presented on July 10. As a first step, a committee has been set up to fast track 250-odd pending road projects across length and breadth of the country.

The move comes even as the coal ministry asked Central Coalfields, a CIL subsidiary, to provide details of its 14 projects awaiting clearances, including those pertaining to environment and forests.

The government has already cleared at least two defence projects, including the long-pending naval port at Karwar. Other civilian and commercial projects long stuck have also been flagged for timebound implementation.

The alacrity in clearing infrastructure projects come when the new government has already divested the planning commission of its financial powers, in the belief that the spurious distinction between plan and non-plan government expenditure must be junked. Opinion makers in the BJP believe that centralised five-year plans are largely irrelevant in the age of real-time monitoring.

The road committee under chairmanship of shipping and road transport minister Nitin Gadkari will meet once a month to clear projects and will have representatives from concerned ministries such as the railways and environment.

The decisions come in the wake of a series of meetings held by prime minister Narendra Modi on June 21 with various infrastructure ministries.

The roads committee will step up the pace of construction across India by clearing all hurdles expeditiously, particularly with regard to land acquisition and environment clearance.

Gadkari recently claimed that the government was in a position to build more than 30 km of highways a day. “We need to think new and bigger. There is no dearth of money. I have enough experience of generating finances. I am working on some mechanism... There should be no pending files,” he has said.

Years ago, road and transport minister in the UPA government Kamal Nath has boasted that his government would build 22 km of highways everyday, but that target was never achieved, and by the time the government demitted office in May, highway construction had crawled to a few kilometres on account of several legal, procedural, land acquisition and environmental hurdles.

In building highways, the present government has proposed replant uprooted trees along newly built highways, using modern technology.

On Monday, Gadkari reviewed implementation of road development projects in various states, particularly Uttar Pradesh, where implementation has been tardy.

Pending projects in Uttarakhand connecting Char Dham, in Jammu & Kashmir for Amarnath Yatra, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, West Bengal, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh were also reviewed.

In the coal sector that is crucial for ensuring feedstock supplies for power plants, state-owned CIL has been awaiting environment and forestry clearances to 241 projects, even as it has been drawing flak for not achieving its production target. Up to 48 environmental clearances are needed to commercially tap 109 million tonnes of coal reserves. Its 14 projects awaiting clearances

include Panchra integrated OC (open cast),

Koed-Manatu-Saradhu OC/Sanghamitra

OC, Ashok Expn OC and Pundi Expn OC.

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) as well as the state governments have been holding up 193 forestry proposals.


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