While the government has relaxed lockdown norms, as many as 8,917 projects worth over ₹21.11 lakh crore across various sectors under execution in 108 red zone districts are at a standstill even now, a survey said.
When the government announced lockdown 4.0, it allowed relaxations in certain activities in the green, orange and red zones, while restricting activities in the containment zones. The zones have been classified based on COVID-19 cases.
According to the study by projects monitoring organisation Projects Today, around 8,917 projects worth ₹21.11 lakh crore are stuck in the 108 red zone districts, which account for 37.4 per cent of the total projects under execution across the country.
The study noted that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced the lockdown on March 25, there were 17,372 projects entailing a total investment of ₹56.51 lakh crore in various stages of implementation.
"Following the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, some of the government projects might have restarted. A country, which has already seen one year of economic downturn, cannot afford to keep the ongoing projects under lockdown for a long time," it said.
Of these 8,917 projects, as many as 7,998, entailing an investment of over ₹16.26 lakh crore, are in the infrastructure sector. These include 1,292 road projects, 166 railway projects, 203 hospital projects, 3,971 real estate projects, 630 under-construction commercial complexes and 178 industrial parks, among others.
The remaining over 900 projects pertain to sectors like manufacturing, irrigation, power and mining.
According to Projects Today, out of the 8,917 projects, 62.9 per cent are owned by government agencies. While the Central government agencies are executing 1,036 projects worth ₹4.42 lakh crore, various departments of the state governments are executing 2,609 projects worth ₹8.86 lakh crore.
"The private sector alone was executing 5,272 projects with a total outlay of more than ₹7.83 lakh crore. Since it will take a while for the private sector to take up the halted projects, government agencies would have to take initiatives to kickstart their halted projects on a war footing basis," it noted.
The survey also found out that of the 19 states and three union territories where all the 130 red zone districts are located, Maharashtra tops the list in terms of halted projects.
Maharashtra has 2,970 projects with total investment of ₹5.96 lakh crore under execution in 14 coronavirus hotspot districts, followed by Gujarat (769), Uttar Pradesh (695), Andhra Pradesh (390) and Delhi (198).
"The urgency of revival in projects investment in these states can be gauged by the fact that the top five states together account for 41.3 percent of India's manufacturing output, 37.1 percent of services output and around 40 percent of the GDP," it said.
The COVID-19 fear has also led to mass migration of labourers to their hometowns.
"Therefore, apart from putting together the required number of labourers to restart the work post lockdown, finding replacements for the migrated labourer (of same skills) will be an uphill task," it noted.