Quick takes, analyses and macro-level views on all contemporary economic, financial and political events.
Metro services will reach over 25 cities by 2025, PM Modi has announced. The move makes eminent sense from the point of view of extending the scope of efficient public transport.
However, for the purpose of boosting growth in the short term, it makes sense to prioritise shovel-ready projects that already have detailed project reports in place and have completed some or most of the land acquisition, rather than new ones.
This is what will raise investment, create demand and save companies from insolvency. For new metro projects, acquiring land or obtaining right of way/use can well take two years or more. That is too long a wait. Hence the pressing need to boost project management capability, and improve governance standards in an environment of innovation, so as to bridge the infrastructural deficit, with speed.
We surely need to fast-forward the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project, conceived over a decade ago, that is slated to triple industrial output and quadruple exports in five years, without further delay and dither. The dedicated freight corridors are worthy candidates for large investment. The way forward is to have a national project management framework and standards, keeping in mind routine, large time and cost overruns for big-ticket infrastructure projects.
A recent report traced recurrent delay to lack of structured project communication and slow decision-making. It calls for a clear responsibility charter, with decision-makers suitably empowered, well-trained and motivated for project execution.
We do need to strengthen people management processes by leveraging our IT prowess with technology, data and design innovations via digitisation, improvement in work processes and new standards and protocols to rapidly augment built spaces pan-India. A year ago, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman averred that infrastructure projects worth over Rs 42 lakh crore were under implementation; in recent years, long-gestation projects costing Rs 10 lakh crore have been completed annually. We can surely do much better.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.