NEW DELHI: Excuses are aplenty; they vary from inefficient contractors and delays in engineering design to environmental clearance and obstructions caused by Maoists. Whatever the reasons, no less than 234 from a total of 566 Central sector projects stand delayed, causing an overrun of Rs 1,20,319 crore. These details have come to light in the latest analysis on central sector projects carried out by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, headed by Srikanta Kumar Jena.
The ministry’s analysis deals only with projects that are worth more than Rs 150 crore; they are in sectors such as coal, steel, petroleum, power, railways, road transport and highways, telecommunications, shipping and ports, civil aviation, mines and atomic energy.
As per the ministry report, the total original cost of implementation of the projects was around Rs 6,67,074 crore. Now the cost has escalated to Rs 7,87,393 crore; an overall cost overrun of 18 per cent. The delay is between one and five years.
The report also points out that as many as 124 projects have been launched without deciding the commissioning date; which means that nobody can be held accountable in case of endless delay.
The National Highways Authority of India is the biggest culprit in the long list of the slowed down, with 90 delays followed by the power and petroleum sectors. Major projects that are delayed in these sectors include the Haldia Port connectivity road, Kudankulam atomic energy project, key projects of SAIL, Neyveli Lignite, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam, NTPC, NHPC, Power Grid and Nalco. The reasons for cost overruns have been attributed variously to inflation, fluctuation of exchange rates, higher tender value, etc.
The big picture of development, however, does not look entirely grim. Five projects are ahead of schedule, an event that is quite rare in the history of centrally sponsored projects.