Economics & Politics

Transforming India: Big Infrastructure Projects which can revive India’s economic growth story

Transforming India

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“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is way great spiritual giants are produced”Swami Vivekananda

India is finally getting some amount of positive coverage in global press for reasons. While earlier India was only mentioned with the news on natural or man-made disasters. Though, even now the stories about Economy or development are spiced up with the images of cows on the road, poor children. But at least the world has started noticing the Elephant. India is mentioned in positive, along with the stories from BRIC countries. It is hard to ignore the economic growth currently being registered by BRIC, as most of the developed countries face economic downturn.

Discussion about Indian economic growth in the Indian Media is incomplete without a comparison with our friendly neighborhood Dragon – China.  Its a common knowledge the China is decades ahead of India in terms of infrastructure development. Along with the Industrial growth, Infrastructure in China has developed amazing in the last 25 years, and is now comparable, if not ahead of any developed countries, including USA.  The infrastructure development speed of China was showcased to the world during the Beijing Olympic Games.

Easily available labor, hassle free project approval system & abundance of resources being deployed by the Government have given China the edge in developing big ticket infrastructure project swiftly.

A similar opportunity exist in India as well infrastructure development, but the similarity ends there. There are a number of big ticket projects in discussion in public domain for a long period of time; it is high time that India needs to move ahead swiftly on these, least we are left behind & even the I in the BRIC is replaced by some  alphabet.

President of India on the eve of Independence Day 2003 said, “The first mission (of my government) is on the Networking of Rivers … This will eliminate the periodical problem of droughts and floods …and provide both water and power security”

The National River Linking Project (NRLP) was mooted by the Vajpayee government in 2002 to artificially link 14 Himalayan rivers in northern India and 16 peninsular rivers in southern India.

The idea first emerged in the nineteenth century and was again resurrected when Captain Dinshaw Dastur suggested a “Garland Canal” in 1974.

In 2009, it was scrapped by the UPA Govt., citing high cost, environmental concerns, human displacement issues and effects on biodiversity.

NRLP could help mitigate regional imbalances caused due to frequent floods and droughts. The project would also lead to fresh inland navigational routes, new sources of Add to cart and create millions of hectares of irrigated land.

The specific objectives of the project were to:

  • Assess the possible scenario of water supply and demand given the present trends of water demand;
  • Analyze whether the NRLP concept can be an adequate, cost-effective and sustainable in terms of the present socioeconomic, environmental and political condition
  • Prepare a plan of institutional and policy interventions as a fallback strategy for the NRLP and identify the best strategies to implement alternative options

Benefits of NRLP

1. Irrigation: By linking of rivers vast amount of land areas which does not have otherwise irrigated and unusable for agriculture become fertile.
2. Flood prevention: With network of rivers this problem can be greatly avoided by channeling excess water to areas that are not experiencing a flood or are dry.
3. Generation of electricity: With new canals built, feasibility of new DAMS to generate hydroelectric power becomes a possibility.
4. Navigation: Newly created network of canals opens up new routes and ways and routes of water navigation, which is generally more efficient and cheaper compared to road transport.

Issues and Concerns

1. Ecological issues: Major concern being the argument that rivers change their course in 70–100 years and once they are linked, future change of course can create huge practical problems for the project.
2. Aqua life: A number of leading environmentalists are of the opinion that the project could be an ecological disaster. There would be a decrease in downstream flows resulting in reduction of fresh water inflows into the seas seriously jeopardizing aquatic life
3. Deforestation: Creation of canals would need large areas of land resulting large scale deforestation in certain area.
4. Displacement of people: As large strips of land might have to convert to canals; a considerable population living in this area must need to be rehabilitated to new areas.

The Kalpasar Project envisages building a dam across the Gulf of Khambhat for generating power and for establishing a huge reservoir for fresh water for irrigation, drinking and industrial purposes. A 10 lane road link will also be set up over the dam, greatly reducing the distance between Saurashtra and South Gujarat.

Necessity of the Project:

  • Gujarat is water deficient state since its surface water resource is only 2% of the country against 6.4% land area and 5% human population.
  • The per capita water availability of 990 m3 per annum in the state is much lower than minimum 1700m3/per capita/per annum requirement.
  • No dam site on land is now available for storing surplus/untapped 40% surface water.
  • Gulf of Khambhat is only a site to construct dam which can store 10,000 million cu.m (25%) water inflows of the rivers (Narmada, Dhadhar, Mahi, Sabarmati and Saurashtra rivers).
  • The fresh water reservoir of this project requires minimal land acquisition and rehabilitation of people. – This project will serve as a lifeline of Saurashtra region as well as an accelerator for the growing economy of Gujarat State.

“A trade delegation from Japan has evinced interest in the Kalpasar project. Discussions were held with them and if all goes well then the project could be a joint venture with them,” Principal Secretary Narmada Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpasar department, H K Dash. “It is a massive project in which sweet water that flows into the sea via seven big rivers of the state will be collected and stored in the proposed dam. The project proposes construction of a 30-km-long dam on Gulf of Khambhat, leading to creation of 2,000 square km fresh water reservoir in the region.” “The mega project shall also link Saurashtra to South Gujarat by a 30-km dam, with a ten lane road,” Dash said, adding a proposal for energy generation, both solar and wind also falls under the ambit of the project.

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra.

  • It would be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net electrical power rating.
  • French nuclear engineering firm Areva S.A. and Indian state-owned nuclear operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed this multi billion valued agreement of about $9.3 billion.
  • This is a general framework agreement along with agreement on ‘Protection of Confidentiality of Technical Data and Information Relating to Nuclear Power Corporation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy’ was also signed.

Debate about the nuclear power project at Jaitapur is ongoing on various levels.

  • Environmental effects of nuclear power and geological issues have been raised by anti nuclear activists. Many protests have been carried out by local people against the proposed nuclear power plant.
  • On December 4, 2010, protests became violent when over 1500 people were detained from among thousands of protesters, who included environmentalists and local villagers.
  • On April 18, 2011, one man was shot and killed by police and eight were injured after protests turned violent.
  • Jan 24, 2012, New Delhi: The Jaitapur Nuclear power plant protests scheduled for Tuesday have now been been postponed till February 7, keeping in mind the upcoming Zilla Parishad elections.
  • Shiv Sena activists have told villagers that they wouldn’t be able to sit for the ‘jail bharo’ because of the election code of conduct.
  • Reports said that the planned ‘jail bharo’ agitation in and around JNPP site area on January 24 and 25 has been postponed till the Zilla Parishad elections get over. However, some locals might protest.

  • Samundra Sethu-India-Sri Lanka Bridge

Sethu Samundra is the sea that separates Tamil Nadu, India, from Sri Lanka. It encompasses the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait, and a shoal of islands and bays that separate them called Ram Setu (“Rama Bridge”, also known as Adam’s Bridge).

The sea is quite shallow, with a depth of less than 10 meters across most of its extent. Much of its seabed consists of limestone rock. It formed part of a land bridge that joined Sri Lanka to the continent of Asia during the last ice age.

Western Dedicated Freight Corridor

The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) extends 1,534 km from Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) to Dadri via Vadodara-Ahmedabad-Palanpur-Phulera-Rewari.

  • The corridor will cater to container traffic between the west-coast ports and the northern hinterland.
  • This route contributes 50 to 60 per cent of total container traffic at all Indian ports and is currently plagued with low rail share due to saturation in line capacity.
  • The double-line electrified corridor designed for carrying up to 25T axle loads at speeds of 100 kmph is likely to result in significant cost and time savings by shifting container traffic from road to rail, double stacking of containers and faster movement.
  • As of 2011, India does not have any high-speed rail lines capable of supporting speeds of 200 km/h (124 mph) or more, and none is under construction or subject to definite plans, only of longer-term proposals.
  • Fast express trains such as the Shatabdi and Duronto are often referred to as “high-speed” trains by government officials and Indian media, and trains with speed of 250 to 350 km/h (155 to 217 mph) are often referred to as “bullet-trains”.
  • However, periodically interest is expressed by the Government and media in introducing high-speed rail in India.
  • Dedicated Freight Corridor to help railways to reduce green house gases emission by over 64%

  • Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan, covering an overall length of 1483 KMs between the political capital and the business capital of India, i.e. Delhi and Mumbai. Government of India has announced establishing of the Multi-modal High Axle Load Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) between Delhi and Mumbai, covering an overall length of 1483 km and passing through the six States – U.P, NCR of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, with end terminals at Dadri in the National Capital Region of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai.

This project incorporates –

  • Nine Mega Industrial zones of about 200-250 sq. km
  • High speed freight line, three ports, and six air ports
  • A six-lane intersection-free expressway connecting the country’s political and financial capitals
  • A 4000 MW power plant.

It is also envisaged that the alignment of the proposed corridor will have nine junction stations for exchange of traffic between the existing railway system and the DFC. The junctions are:

• Vasai Road: To cater to traffic to/from Mumbai, other than J.Nehru Port

• Gothangam: For traffic to/from Hazira Complex, Jalgaon-Udhna

• Makarpura (Vadodara): For traffic to/from Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Vadodara -Godhra Routes

• Amli Road (Sabarmati): For traffic to/from ICD-Sabarmati, ViramgamSabarmati Route, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Bhavnagar Divisions of Western Railway

• Palanpur: For traffic to/from Kandla/ Mundra Ports and Gandhidham Area

• Marwar Junction: For Traffic from/to Jodhpur area (and lCD-Jodhpur)

• Phulera: For traffic to/from Jaipur- Tundla and Jaipur-Sawai Madhopur Routes’

• Rewari: For traffic to/from Rewari-Hissar-Ludhiana/Bathinda Routes’

• Pirthala (Tughlakabad): For traffic to/from Tughlakabad (and ICDTughalakabad)

2-3-4-5 Mantra

Implemented through special purpose vehicles, the project is expected to deliver a 2-3-4-5 benefit:

to double employment (2),

triple industrial output (3) and

quadruple exports (4) from the region

in five years (5).

It will build along a dedicated rail freight corridor, and once commissioned, will reduce the Delhi-Mumbai transit time from 60 to 36 hours.

  • Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor

The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) extends 1,839 km from Dankuni to Ludhiana via Sonnagar-Mughalsarai-Kanpur and, like WDFC, is designed to carry up to 25T axle loads at speeds of 100 kmph.

In addition to reducing the time and cost for container movement, it is also likely to boost industrial growth along the corridor since it passes through various industrial clusters and provides a direct link for carrying raw and finished goods from industrial clusters to west-coast sea ports via the connection to the WDFC at Dadri.

It will also service up to 75 per cent of the demand for coal for power plants in the eastern and northern region.

Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor bags $975 Million World Bank loan -Oct 28 2011

  • The Centre on Thursday entered into a loan agreement with the World Bank for an amount of a $975 million for the first phase of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC).
  • The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project (EDFC) aims to ease congestion and reduce travel time for passenger trains on the arterial Ludhiana-Delhi-Mughalsarai railway route.
  • The project is also expected to bring in significant reductions of green house gas (GHG) emissions, by operating entirely through electric locomotives.

  • Mumbai as an International Finance Centre (IFC)

This proposition has been presented very forcefully and professionally by the ministry of finance in an elaborate report. The finance minister himself had strongly endorsed the idea at a well-attended gathering in Mumbai in the summer of 2007.

  • The idea is for Mumbai to replicate a London, New York or Singapore; and provide competition to other aspirants like Shanghai, Dubai, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo. The exorbitant cost of real estate in Mumbai is a big inhibitor.
  • Addressing this would involve repealing the Urban Land Ceiling Act, and fresh thinking on Floor Space Index (FSI). The city’s administrative structure would have to be revamped.
  • In China, the four largest cities have been given provincial status; much like Delhi. One suggestion floating around is to turn Mumbai into a Special Administrative Region like Hong Kong.
  • This would release a burst of energy – administrative, financial and political.
  • The central policy focus needs to be on the empowerment of the city government to take economic and service-delivery decisions, as envisaged in the 74th Amendment, and realigning central and state financial allocations.
  • Chittagong Port to Agartala (Tripura) Road Corridor

The Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Rajeet Mitter submitted a detailed proposal that will pave the way for export and import of goods to and from the state through this neighboring country using the Chittagong port.

The routes that have been submitted for use of road and rail facilities of Bangladesh include Akhaura-Agartala, Sabroom-Ramgarh, Bibir Bazar-Srimantpur, Belonia-Belonia, Betuli-Old Raghna Bazar and Chatlapur-Manu along the Tripura stretch of Indo – Bangla border.

The Bangladesh government has been requested to sign a protocol for a period of seven years for the purpose of transit, corridor and use of Chittagong port. According to the proposal, Bangladesh customs could not examine any Indian containerized cargo if it is sealed (one-time-lock).

In respect of non-containerized ones, the customs house may make a selective percentage examination of the goods to check whether the goods are in accordance with customs declaration, said the protocol.


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