It was a sad story! But one filled with hope and optimism for the future. As per data shared by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, 441 infrastructure projects have incurred cost overruns of Rs 4.35 trillion due to various, but predominantly delay in implementation. This has resulted in projects having been set back by a period ranging from one month to over five years. The reasons cited range from land acquisition to forest and environment clearances and a lack of infrastructure support and linkages.
The Minister for Roads and Highways & Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari, has gone on record to say that fixing these issues can save the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Rs 1 trillion alone, yearly. As one of the world's fastest-growing major economies, this cannot be tolerated when savings made in one project can be easily spun-off into other areas.
Our cover story on cost optimisation delves into the issue in detail and suggests recommendations sought from a cross-section of stakeholders including Kshitish Nadgauda, Managing Director Asia, Louis Berger and Dr. Srini Srinivasan, Regional Managing Director, Project Management Institute (PMI) South Asia, towards timely execution of infrastructure projects.
The sit-in by farmers organisations at certain border crossings in the national capital has put the focus on farm sector reforms. Our story on the issue takes a 360-degree view of how measures like contract farming, an overhaul of logistics and extensive use of technology could result in not only improving productivity but also significantly improve income in the sector that employs 50 per cent of the workforce. However, effective communication will be intrinsic to the successful rollout of reform measures.
India today is among the top markets for urban rail projects. The story on metro rail explores anc highlights the troubles with the public-private partnership (PPP) model in Mumbai Metro One Pvt. Ltd (MMOPL) that could potentially derail its extension to other similar projects in the long-term. According to the former Managing Director of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) and Partner and National Head, Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare, KPMG in India, Elias George, despite their capital-intensive nature, metro rail projects generate wider economic and other benefits that cannot be merely factored in monetarily. And through the deployment of proper planning and the right application strategies, there is considerable scope for improving their financial performance.
The story on the Central Government's plans to encourage manufacturing of electrical equipment like transmission & distribution infrastructure within the country weighs if the right ecosystem is in place to achieve that objective. Anil Saboo, President, Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers' Association (IEEMA) says that this is doable and India could also emerge as a major supplier of such equipment to the world in the coming years.
We also have an opinion piece especially written for our magazine by the noted lawyer and former Chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW), Dr. Poornima Advani.
In Dr. Advani's view, given India's humongous capital requirement for infrastructure development, the country urgently needs to look at evolving innovative financing models.
We would also like to wish you and your families a Very Happy & Prosperous New Year. We earnestly hope that 2021 is a lot kinder to the world.