Prime minister to head cabinet panel on infrastructure


New Delhi : The government has constituted a high-power committee under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to drive infrastructure development in the country, identified as a key priority area to push overall economic growth.

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“The committee will fast track the implementation of the infrastructure sector projects and monitor performance keeping in mind the mandate of the government,” an official statement said Saturday.

The members include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah and Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chauhan and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel are special invitees to the committee.

The mandate of the committee includes:

– Take decisions on proposals costing over Rs.150 crore (Rs.1.5 billion)

– Focus on energy, railways, highways, ports, airports, telecom, IT, irrigation, housing

– Special emphasis on rural housing and urban slum clearance

– Deal with measures related to financial, institutional and legal requirements

– Grant approvals to facilitate private sector investment in specific projects

– Lay down annual targets for performance for all infrastructure sectors

– Review the progress of infrastructure sector projects

Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Communications Minister A. Raja, Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal are its other members.

The new committee has been set up against the backdrop of the Prime Minister’s Office starting a delivery monitoring unit to review the government’s flagship programmes and iconic projects.

Its main task is to ensure effective delivery of programmes with outputs from ministries concerned, fast-track implementation, ensure trouble-shooting through periodic reviews and give a quarterly performance report to the prime minister.