Projects delayed? Ministries likely to face question hour

New Delhi: The Centre is working on a new set of norms that will make it mandatory for ministries and departments to provide detailed reasons for execution delays in case a project’s cost exceeds the original estimate by 15% for infrastructure projects, people familiar with the development told ET.

The proposed norms being discussed are aimed at making ministries and departments more accountable by introducing rigorous cost analysis while ensuring that projects are executed efficiently without unnecessary escalation in cost, they said.

Out of 1,873 infrastructure projects, 449 were hit by cost overruns amounting to ₹5.01 lakh crore and 779 projects were delayed till March 2024, according to the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI). These infrastructure projects had a project cost of more than ₹150 crore.

The average time overrun in these 779 delayed projects was 36.04 months.

There is a growing view within the government that monitoring of project implementation needs to be more stringent to ensure timely execution and avoid delays. There is a surge in requests from several ministries for additional funds without giving any substantive reasoning for the delay or providing estimated date of project completion.

Stage-wise Responsibility

“This (delay in execution) needs to end. In the previous two budgets, at least Rs 50,000 crore was an additional burden due to project delays which could have been avoided,” a senior government official told ET.The official added that preliminary inter-ministerial discussions were underway and a new framework is likely to be introduced by the end of this year.The proposed framework will seek to assign responsibility to an official at each stage. Time taken to grant approval, release funds, for tendering and selection process and reason for any delay at each stage will have to be given by officials in charge.

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