NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari on Thursday pulled up officers for an ‘inordinate delay’ in finishing projects. Terming it as a ‘matter of shame,’ the transport minister said that the Rs 250 crore-NHAI building project was finalised in 2008 and but was inaugurated only recently. However, a close analysis of the government data on infrastructure projects has disclosed that the number of delayed projects and cost overrun has increased in last five years.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation data disclosed that the cost overrun of the projects due to delay has gone up by over 100 per cent between the years 2014 and 2020. Analysis of the data showed that the number of projects which got delayed in 2014 was 209 out of total 710 and the cost overrun was of Rs 1,79,607 crore. While the original cost of the projects was Rs 9,24,307 crore, the anticipated cost due to the delay was Rs 11,03,914 crore.
Data also disclosed a constant rise in the number of delayed projects as it increased to 324 out of 751 in 2015 and 343 out of total 1076 in the subsequent year. As per March, 2020 data, total number of such projects have increased to 567 and the cost overrun reached the mark of Rs 4,05,175 crore. According to the ministry, the main reasons for cost overrun include under-estimation of original cost, changes in rates of foreign exchange and statutory duties, high cost of environmental safeguards and rehabilitation measures.
Similarly, spiraling land acquisition costs; shortage of skilled manpower, changes in project scope, monopolistic pricing by vendors of equipment services, general price rise and inflation are a few other reasons. Moreover, delay in land acquisition and forest clearance has also been one of the reasons. The government has taken many initiatives to ensure successful completion of Central Sector Infrastructure Projects without time and cost overruns and periodic review of projects under PRAGATI through video conferencing is one of the main steps.
Moreover, various steps are being taken to facilitate the speedy implementation of major projects by removing bottlenecks. The measures include — project appraisal, Online Computerized Monitoring System (OCMS) for better monitoring, setting up of revised cost committees for fixation of responsibility for time and cost overruns, regular review of infrastructure projects among others The ministry has also compiled data on time and cost overruns of on-going Central Sector Infrastructure Projects costing Rs 150 crore and above, on the basis of information provided by the project implementing agencies.