In a bid to propel the economy, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday held a meeting with bankers to identify the bottlenecks stalling projects in the eastern region.

Projects worth around Rs. 31,000 crore and involving bank finances of Rs. 23,000 crore are currently waiting to take off in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. The government is anxious to unlock the potential of these stalled projects, Chairman, State Bank of India, Pratip Chaudhuri said after attending the nearly two-hour long meeting with the Minister.

“It would be a tragedy and a national loss if these projects languish due to lack of balance-funding. The Finance Minister has urged banks to prevail upon dissident consortium members to release balance funds for these projects,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram spent considerable time trying to understand the reasons behind the delay in these projects, mainly in the steel, power and road sectors. The bankers believed that the Minister would discuss these issues with departments like coal (for fuel supply) and environment (for clearances) so that the projects can be implemented.

Asked whether the problem of land acquisition had featured at the meeting, Mr. Chaudhuri said the problem existed in all the States but in the case of West Bengal, two road-widening projects involving an investment of Rs. 800 crores were held up due to opposition over acquisition of some balance land.

Some loans have had to be restructured by the banks due to delays in the projects, and additional funds amounting to Rs. 8000 crore are now required for their completion.

Mr. Chidambaram has held such meetings already in Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.