Chidambaram’s proposal to fast track projects approved after renaming

Seeking to remove investment bottlenecks and promote growth, the government on Thursday decided to set up a Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to accord single-window approval to mega projects of over Rs 1,000 crore. CCI will be headed by the Prime Minister.

“The proposal to set up the Cabinet Committee on Investment, headed by Prime Minister, to fast track mega projects of over Rs 1,000 crore was cleared,” official sources said after the meeting of the Cabinet.

There are over 100 projects, each involving investment of Rs 1,000 crore or more, which are held up. The high-powered panel for according speedy clearance to infrastructure projects was initially mooted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. He had suggested that the body be called National Investment Board (NIB).

The Cabinet, however, renamed the proposed body as Cabinet Committee on Investment. The panel will have ministers in charge of infrastructure sectors as its members.

“All the concerns of the Environment Ministry have been addressed,” the source said, adding that the committee would fast track and coordinate mega projects and would not function as an appellate body.

Talking to the reporters, I&B Minister Manish Tewari said: “The Cabinet Committee on Investment has been mandated and tasked with the responsibility of projects of investment over Rs 1,000 crore and ensure expeditious approval if timelines are not adhered to. If there are difficulties in big projects in sticking to deadlines, CCI will look into them. And efforts will be made to expedite them.”

Welcoming the decision, FICC president R.V. Kanoria said: “We have always supported this idea. This will also give a strong signal to the investors that the government wishes to expedite projects.”

Chidambaram’s proposal, it may be recalled, had evoked sharp criticism from the Environment Ministry which had argued that the NIB would dilute its powers to take care of green concerns.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had earlier written to the Prime Minister opposing any move to bypass the required green clearances for mega projects.

She had said that the proposal seems to have been mooted only for the benefit of large firms and investors, while having no provision for redressing the concerns of affected people.

“Our problem is not conceptualising projects. Our problem lies in getting numerous clearances and getting the project off the ground within a reasonable time,” Chidambaram had said earlier. — PTI

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