Centre makes project selection competitive, glitch-free

Centre makes project selection competitive, glitch-free

The Centre has modified rules for approving new projects and schemes of various ministries.

The Cabinet Secretariat recently instructed all Union ministries to adopt a "challenge method" to select the best of the proposals coming from the States to ensure that there are no glitches in implementation.

The move is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suggestion.

"This would encourage competition among the States/ UTs to offer the best suited sites and commit resources in terms of land utilities, infrastructural support, financial commitments etc," the Cabinet Secretariat noted in its guidelines for selection of new schemes and projects.

The guidelines, issued recently, is applicable only to the central sector schemes and projects of the Union Government.

An indicative list of the sectors and projects where the "challenge method" has to be applied include setting up of new institutions, establishment of centres of excellence, upgradation and expansion of existing institutions, both in higher education and health infrastructure sectors.

Setting up of thermal power plants; new airports, small airports for regional connectivity, upgradation of existing airstrips; construction/upgradation of railway stations; laying new roads/upgradation of existing roads; and site selection for national games and national youth festivals are also in the indicative list of sectors.

"As per existing practice, the location of projects, institutions/schemes is decided on various considerations, often without due diligence in terms of suitability of location or project readiness. In many instances, projects along with locations are announced in the Budget or as a development package. The formulation of the scheme, land selection and acquisition etc., are done after the announcement," Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha noted in a letter to various ministries.

Such projects "often" face risks such as non-availability of suitable land, delay in land acquisition, delay in clearances, political opposition, lack of supporting infrastructure, lack of urban agglomeration to attract high end technical and managerial expertise.

Objective criterion

"The result is delay in implementation along with cost and time overruns leading to sub optimal utilisation of scarce resources. Thus, there is need to evolve an objective criterion for selection of sites for various projects," he added.

Under the challenge method, all ministries are required to constitute a four-member selection committee under their secretary. While all ministries would conduct a feasibility study with the help of experts for each State's proposal, they will evaluate the projects on eight to nine broad parameters. Early availability of land will get the highest weigtage of 20-25 out of 100.

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