Kerala will lose Rs. 40 lakh a day for delay in work
The proponents of speedy, cost-effective construction of transportation projects were on different pages with those who preferred adherence to the government system and its pace, at the Emerging Kerala investment summit in Kochi on Thursday.
They were speaking at a session on ‘Kerala’s infrastructure development’. “Political will, a forward-looking bureaucracy and timely land acquisition are crucial to completing road and transportation projects on time, without cost overrun,” the Principal Advisor for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, E. Sreedharan said.
Referring to the Delhi and Kochi metro-rail projects, he reiterated that time is money. Delay in completing the second phase of the Delhi metro would have increased the project cost by Rs 2.50 crore per day because of inflation and loss of revenue from ticket collection. Similarly, Kerala stands to lose Rs 40 lakh per day on account of inflation, for the delay in beginning the construction work for the Kochi metro rail. This calls for quick decision making by the stakeholders, especially the bureaucracy, he said.
Later, addressing mediapersons, he said that the State government has so far not formally handed over the Kochi Metro’s construction work to the DMRC.
Elaborating on the perils posed by private participation in transportation projects, Mr Sreedharan said that such projects are often plagued by malpractices. Private firms often show an inflated project cost, to gain a bigger share of the Government’s viability-gap funding and to borrow more (from financial institutions at low interest).
He added that Kerala needs to invest roughly Rs 10 lakh crore in the coming five years, to boost its basic infrastructure.
The Principal Secretary of PWD and former MD of Kochi Metro Rail Limited Tom Jose spoke of how projects must go ahead on the basis of the prevailing system. “We must also focus on encouraging entrepreneurs, than be dependant on those with a proven track record. The government (the system) is a regulator and at the same time a facilitator. This must not be overlooked,” he said.
Referring to the major transportation infrastructure projects lined up in the State, he said that the State Government’s aim is to integrate the different modes of transport – road, rail and waterway.
He said that the feasibility study of the Greenfield highway from Pettah to Angamaly is over and work is set to begin, in order to decongest the Edapally-Aroor NH 47 Bypass. The Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed said that a system was needed to implement projects.
Its efficiency has to be boosted, if the system is found wanting, he said.
In his opening remarks, the Minister for Urban Affairs and Minority Welfare Manjalamkuzhi Ali said that Kerala needs to do much to increase its basic infrastructure, sanitation and food security.
The Principal Secretary, Local Self-Government V. S. Senthil said that stakeholders are often unwilling to accept and redress weaknesses in the government system. This must change, he said.
In a panel discussion that followed, Harsh Dhingra, Chief Country Representative of Bombardier Transportation India Ltd (which manufactures metro/mono-rail coaches) spoke how metro rails with private participation like the ones in Hyderabad and Mumbai have failed to take off.