Narendra Modi reviews infrastructure progress, calls for transformational change

Narendra Modi expresses displeasure over the pace of work, calls on ministries to improve efficiency


Modi also directed all infrastructure sector ministries to focus on solar-based energy solutions. Photo: Hindustan Times
Modi also directed all infrastructure sector ministries to focus on solar-based energy solutions. Photo: Hindustan Times

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the performance of infrastructure projects on Monday and called for a transformational leap to improve the nation’s creaky infrastructure.

“The incremental change will not help achieve India’s transformation,” Modi said.

In the review with top officials of infrastructure sector ministries, government think-tank NITI Aayog and the prime minister’s office, Modi expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work and asked ministries to focus on infrastructure projects and improve efficiency.

Modi also directed all ministries to focus on solar energy. “Solar energy can meet farmers’ energy needs from field to home. Focus should be on solar-based energy solutions,” he said.

He also directed NITI Aayog to find solar-based integrated energy solutions for the farm sector.

Modi said that generation of energy from roof-top solar panels has huge potential and a concentrated regional approach focus would be far more appropriate than scattered development. He also sought a report on deployment of solar energy in the transport sector and solar-powered railway engines from the respective ministries. The prime minister also highlighted the need for installation of solar rooftops on government buildings and net metering by discoms.

The prime minister emphasized the need to enhance production and reduce dependence on oil imports. He said there was a need to develop India as a gas-based economy with focus on city gas distribution and to make it possible there was a need to boost domestic exploration and complete mapping of sedimentary basins.

NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant made a detailed presentation on the infrastructure sector with focus on new and renewable energy, petroleum and natural gas and on airports. Kant laid major focus on petroleum and oil sector where an investment of $10 billion is expected over a period of time. The move follows Modi’s interaction with global oil and gas experts on 5 January.

In his presentation, Kant recommended an empowered mechanism to expedite 76 discoveries under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) which are at different stages of implementation. He also pointed out that in FY16, India had installed the highest ever solar and wind capacity. “We need to be open to new technology and new ideas,” Kant said.

On airport connectivity, Modi expressed satisfaction that eight Indian airports ranked among the global top 5 in different categories. He said the New National Civil Aviation Policy will give further impetus to regional connectivity.

Modi appreciated the work undertaken by Indian Railways, stating that it is making substantial progress. Indian Railways has achieved a target of daily passenger movement of 22.5 million and 240 unmanned crossings have been eliminated in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

Similarly, he appreciated port sector developments. “Delighted to note improvement in average vessel turnaround time in the port sector. Port-led development is essential in the 21st century,” Modi said on Twitter.

The other projects discussed were the direct benefit transfer scheme, ethanol blending and distribution of LED bulbs.

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