With the Cabinet on Thursday clearing the proposal for constituting a Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to fast-track large infrastructure projects along with the Land Acquisition Bill, India Inc is hopeful that the government would give the required push to make the first work effectively and ensure that the second doesn’t face roadblocks in Parliament.
Since the setting up of the CCI is an executive decision, the Cabinet’s decision is final and the government only needs to ensure that it works effectively and doesn’t end up like the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure that it has replaced. However, the Land Bill needs to be passed by Parliament and industry hopes for its smooth passage though it has some reservations on it. Further, land being a state subject, it remains to be seen how far the different state government are willing to go in following the guidelines set by it.
Industry captains FE spoke to expressed mixed reactions. While some expressed disappointment since the CCI’s mandate is seen to have been watered down from what the original proposal entailed when it was referred to as the National Investment Board (NIB), there was also hope that since the PM is chairing it, the mechanism would be effective. Earlier, the idea was that the body would work as an agency that can overrule line ministries and also act as an appellate authority against their rulings. However, the Cabinet has approved a structure where it would work as a coordinating agency with no powers to overrule line ministries or act as an appellate body.
This has clearly disappointed Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of Feedback Infra. “The CCI does not have overriding powers. The power still lies with the line ministries and, therefore, if the line ministry says no, this body cannot override the decision nor can it entertain an appeal. The appeal has to be made to the line ministry,” he said.
On land acquisition, Chatterjee said more clarity is required though the effort is laudable. “In terms of provisions, I personally welcome the government trying to get its hands around a very difficult subject called land acquisition. However, there are two aspects of fine print which I am still unclear about. The first is the entire implementation of the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) package. The second issue is public purpose. Within the infrastructure sector, we have got government infrastructure and we have got public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure. I am