PM sets investment target of Rs. 2 lakh crore

Jolted into action following the country's GDP growth plunging to a nine-year low of 5.3 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2011-12, the government on Wednesday decided to set in motion a host of measures to kick-start key infrastructure development projects and thereby provide a catalyst to revert the economy to a higher growth trajectory.

At a meeting held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to finalise the infrastructure sector targets for the current fiscal, investment allocations were sought to be almost doubled for a number of key segments such as ports and shipping, roads, airports, and railways.

Dr. Singh set an investment target of at least Rs. 2 lakh crore for core sector projects in the current fiscal in a bid to revert back to nine per cent economic growth.

With Ministers and Secretaries of key infrastructure Ministries — Power, Railways, Roads, Shipping, Civil Aviation and Coal — participating in the deliberations, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia made a presentation to point out the detailed process through which these targets were finalised and the high level of ambition they represent.

In the ports segment, the target for this fiscal comprising a total of 42 projects valued at Rs. 14,500 crore is three times what was achieved last fiscal. Of these, two projects are for brand new major ports in the east coast — Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal — with a total investment of Rs. 20,500 crore. “The total capacity which will be awarded this year will be 360 MTPA with an investment of Rs. 35,000 crore,” a statement said.

In roads, a total length to be awarded in 2012-13 will be 9,500 km, marking an increase of 18.7 per cent over last year and an increase in investment by 73.6 per cent. Of these, a total of 4,360 km of roads will be awarded for maintenance under the OMT (Operate, Maintain, Transfer) system for the first time.

As for civil aviation, work on the Itanagar airport is to be started by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the total investment on AAI projects will be Rs. 2,100 crore. This apart, three new greenfield projects will be awarded during the fiscal and these airports are to be located at Navi Mumbai, Goa and Kannur. Alongside, new international airports will be declared in three or four of the locations this year — Lucknow, Varanasi, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Gaya.

“An airline hub policy would be finalised and Hubs would be operationalised in Delhi and Chennai in FY13. By end-July 2012, additional PPP projects would be finalised for 10-12 existing airports and for 10-12 greenfield airports. These would be awarded during the year,” the statement said while noting that PPP (public private partnership) in airport operations would be explored.

In his remarks, while expressing satisfaction over the detailed exercise undertaken to finalise targets for key infrastructure sectors for 2012-13, the Prime Minister said: “We are all aware of the need to give a major push to these important sectors and today's exercise is a part of our efforts in this direction.”

Dr. Singh observed that after achieving remarkably high growth rates over the past eight years and emerging as the second-fastest growing large economy in the world, we are now running into “more turbulent weather.” The global economy, he said, was passing through difficult times and there was “a flight to safety” taking place globally. Besides, the persistent problem of rising international petroleum and commodity prices, rising domestic demand along with supply side bottlenecks have contributed to inflationary pressures.

“In these difficult times, we must do everything possible to revive business and investor sentiment. We must work to create an atmosphere which is conducive to investment and to remove any bottleneck to growth. We as a government are committed to taking the necessary measures to reverse the present situation and revive India's growth story. We are aware that we have to act on multiple fronts to achieve this and we will indeed do all that is required of us,” Dr. Singh said.

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