New Delhi: Secretaries of transport ministries last week drew up a programme to build better connectivity between roads, railways, shipping and aviation as a part of the government’s focus to bring about a convergence in the activities of complimentary sectors.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has appointed the roads ministry as the nodal agency to conduct this programme. Ministries are expected to draw up a wish-list of road and railway links they would like to see for existing and upcoming projects to provide better connectivity, two roads ministry officials said, requesting anonymity.
The meeting of officials, chaired by roads secretary Vijay Chhibber, was attended by officials from the ministries of aviation, railways and shipping, the Department Of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Airports Authority of India and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).
“At the behest of the PMO, this programme has been initiated to provide robust connectivity. Different ministries will make an action plan to bring about coordination," said the first official.
“In the first meeting the secretaries decided to draw up a list of missing links to connect all the upcoming and existing infrastructure projects, like (linking) old and proposed airports, DMIC and ports to national highways and railways," said the second official.
The initiative follows a statement by the Gujarat government reflecting Modi’s agenda after he resigned as Gujarat chief minister to take over as Prime Minister. A statement issued by the Gujarat government on 25 May, a day before Modi’s swearing-in, had said, “Focus is on convergence in the activities of various ministries where one Cabinet minister will be heading a cluster of ministries working in complementary sectors."
The transport sector move seems to be one of the first to take forward this plan.
“The ministries will also have to prioritize their requests for these transport gaps and the ministry to whom the request is sent will then work out the feasibility of the request. The coordination could involve dividing responsibilities like land acquisition, costs and execution," the second official added. The idea was first floated at the sector presentation made by the roads ministry to Modi. “The PM had then said that the ministries should be organized in such a way that there is possibility of converging transport corridors," said the first official. A similar plan is being considered to boost tourism, especially religious tourism, the official said.
“The biggest pain in our development programmes has been isolated planning. We do not have integrated, inter-modal transport projects and there are crucial missing links in many big projects. The move to converge the activities of the transport sectors will help in optimization of logistical and transportation costs which are double in India as compared to European countries and China. This makes our manufacturing sector non-competitive internationally. So, this is a much-needed effort," said Abhaya Agarwal, a partner at EY, who oversees the infrastructure practice at the consultancy.