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Respected Shri Narendra Modi, If one was to think of the three most pressing problems and areas where solutions are needed, one could sum them up as IIM: Inflation, Infrastructure, Manufacturing. To hit the ground running you need to steer around areas which need tweaking. One area which has caused many obstacles has been the land acquisition bill. If one can push article 254 into zones which are a hindrance in implementation of infrastructure projects, one can have states get the President´s assent over the Centre´s policies. Further, there are low hanging fruits in the form of: Projects which are 90 per cent complete but stuck due to last mile connectivity, permissions, protests etc.
Projects which have obtained financial closure but are stuck due to permissions. Projects stuck due to arbitration. Here a fast track arbitration court can serve to release over Rs 25,000 crore into the system.
Here are a few thoughts on the infrastructure sector at large: The single biggest failing that led infrastructure growth to languish despite a good start was the lack of transparency. When natural resources like mines, energy, rights to allow people to travel, etc., are auctioned in an unfair and non-transparent manner, the right to demand accountability and audit is also lost leading to sub-standard use of resources and the creation of sub-standard assets. Every such resource should be made transparent from its inception. The lack of transparency precedes the loss of credibility. In such a case foreign investors prefer to stay miles away. Infrastructure is an enabler. This is one area where we need to attract maximum FDI. There is neither any urgency to draw FDI in multi-brand retail nor to grant banking licenses, but attracting FDI in building infrastructure is a supreme need.
The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor should be stepped up as it is behind schedule. The Japanese have money sitting idle in banks awaiting our execution plan.
The river-interlinking plan needs to be revived along with the Ganga cleaning project. Environment concerns have brought several mini-hydro projects to a standstill leaving crores of investment in abeyance. These and other hydro projects which have DPRs ready should be kicked off with clear guidelines.
Priority should be laid on last mile grid connectivity which can help consolidate captive and renewable generated power.
Agri-warehousing needs a capacity build-up to meet the shortage which is expected to reach 123 MT. We lose foodgrains, oilseeds, pulses, vegetables etc to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore per annum and on the other end we are battling with inadequate food supply and consequent inflation.
Railways needs a turnaround as a vital connecting force is being run aground by politicians who use this as a constituency building department by announcing non-profitable routes with no focus on improving efficiency. It abilities as a logistics provider can well be enhanced which can make logistics cost efficient and again help in keeping inflation under check.
Lastly, construction contributes 8 per cent to the GDP, employs over 35 million people and is a sure trigger for creating an economic multiplier. Similarly 78 per cent of the sum spent on construction of a housing unit in India gets added back directly to India´s GDP.
Mr Modi, the growth in GDP during the first three years during your tenure will be a reflection of the speed with which you get the existing projects, which are in execution stage, completed. You may set processes so that these do not get derailed but new projects which you conceptualise now will struggle to be completed by the end of your first term. So you need to plan for two terms for sure as the benefit of your vision will truly manifest in your second term. Having said that, I also believe that there is great power in our bureaucracy and given your experience, if you can harness this by invoking their sense of accomplishment without fear of a witch hunt, then you can change the model from being ´create, procrastinate´ to ´create, execute, audit´.
My best wishes to you as a partner in progress,