Prime Minister's Office16-February, 2006 20:14 IST
PM reviews progress of infrastructure projects
The Committee on Infrastructure, chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, met here today to review progress of infrastructure projects including rail, road and port infrastructure projects.

The Ministry of Railways and Railway Board made a presentation on the “Turnaround Story” of Indian Railways listing out the significant progress made in the last two years in improving the financial health and performance of Indian Railways, and the strategy for further improvement over the next five years. The Prime Minister complimented Indian Railways and encouraged them to move further on the road to modernization and financial revitalization of the railways.

The Committee on Infrastructure also considered the report of the Task Force on Dedicated Freight Corridor Projects and approved the proposal to set up a special purpose vehicle on commercial lines to fund the project. The SPV will be owned jointly by the Indian Railways and users of bulk freight services.

The Committee was briefed on the new policy on Competition in the Operation of Container Trains. It was informed that a Model Concession Agreement is being drafted, and that 14 applications have been received.

The Committee on Infrastructure gave its approval for a feasibility study for a Mumbai – Vadodra Expressway; and for pre-feasibility studies for Expressways connecting Delhi to Chandigarh, Jaipur, Meerut and Agra; Bangalore- Chennai and Kolkata – Dhanbad.

The Committee on Infrastructure was also briefed on the progress of National Highways Development Programme. It was pointed out that delays in road construction were largely due to delays in land acquisition; in securing clearances from related utilities and entities like Railways, SEBs, oil companies, etc; and in securing environmental clearance for cutting trees where needed. The Prime Minister urged that these delays should be reduced as far as possible.

The Committee on Infrastructure considered measures adopted to reduce time taken at sea ports for customs clearance and in cargo handling. The average time taken for customs clearance has been reduced from 64 hours to 3 hours. The Prime Minister complimented the Ministry of Finance and suggested that similar measures may be taken in respect of air cargo also to reduce dwell time.

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YSR/HS/CS
(Release ID :15547)