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The government is banking heavily on the big projects pushed ahead by the Cabinet Committee on Investment since January and expects these would show on the economy beginning the last quarter of this fiscal but a sizeable chunk of CCI-cleared projects is still stuck at some level — either a central ministry or a state department.
An FE review of the status of some of the mega projects in the power, oil & gas, ports and railway sectors fast-tracked by CCI showed that the expenditure-related impact of these — leave alone the revenue streams — on the demand in the economy would be delayed. That many projects are still stuck and are unable to meet the CCI deadlines would mean the CCI’s impact on the economy, when it begins to kick in, could also be significantly smaller than what policymakers aspire for.
For example, all 14 power sector projects cleared by the investment panel in April are still waiting to get off the ground as final clearances are held up in procedural wrangles. Four power generation projects of NTPC, NHPC and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) collectively worth R12,000 crore have failed to meet the deadline set by the CCI for all clearances to be given. People in the know say final clearances for these could take at least a year more. Also, 10 transmission projects are yet to receive the green signal from the central ministries that were asked by the high-level committee headed by the Prime Minister to fast-track them.
Three hydroelectric projects in Arunachal Pradesh — Etalin (3,097 MW), Attunil (680MW) and Lower Subansiri (1,600 MW) — have an investment potential of over R50,000 crore. Despite the CCI’s intervention, work on them has been stalled due to delays in securing clearance from the defence and home ministries and also an unresolved local resistance.
With THDC’s Vishnugad Pipalkoti 444 MW hydroelectric plant (revised cost estimate: Rs 3,745 crore), CCI had at its April 22 meeting directed the environment ministry to award the project within two months.
Though the ministry has accorded stage II forest clearance for a portion of the project land on May 28, the Uttarakhand government’s order transferring forest land to THDC is still awaited. The project is not expected to be awarded before the end of the calendar year.
As for the NHPC’s 195 MW Kotlibhel hydroelectric project, estimated to cost of Rs 2045 crore, the CCI had in