Chidambaram meets bankers, industrialists to speed up projects


Bangalore : Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday met top bank executives and leading industrialists here on speeding up execution of infrastructure projects by addressing procedural and structural issues.

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“The finance minister has assured us all help in executing pending projects and kick-starting new projects to spur growth and attract more investments in the infrastructure sector, especially power, roads, highways and ports,” a leading industrialist who participated in the 90-minute-long interactive session told IANS later.

Concerned over inordinate delays in completion of various infrastructure projects for want of statutory approvals and environmental clearances, Chidambaram held similar brain-storming sessions in Mumbai and Chennai for a first-hand account of the bottlenecks that were holding up investments and timely project execution.

According to industry estimates, hundreds of projects valued at Rs.7 lakh crore (Rs.7 trillion) are stuck owing to delays in land acquisition, ecological clearances, coal linkages, gas allotments and extension of concessionary agreements.

“About 120 new projects involving Rs.3 lakh crore (Rs.3 trillion) investments were discussed to facilitate their timely execution once they are sanctioned and given approvals,” the industrialist said.

Some of the projects discussed at the meeting are being implemented by the private sector or through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode in the southern region.

Among them are the National Highway Authority of India (NHIA) expressway from Bangalore to Devanahalli international airport, which is stuck for want of funds, JSW pelletisation plant in Bellary district in Karnataka, HKR and NAM road project, and Anark aluminum plant at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Kadalur highway in Tamil Nadu, and Thrissur expressway in Kerala.

Alarmed over leading infrastructure players GMR and GVK pulling out of two prestigious road-cum-highway projects involving a combined investment of Rs.10,700 crore, Chidamabaram sought to allay fears of investors and industrialists on administrative and legal delays.

The finance minister, however, declined to brief the media on the outcome of the meeting and the issues or projects that were discussed.

Chairmen and managing directors of the state-run Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank and Vijaya Bank and top officials of leading financial institutions and heads of chambers of commerce and captains of industry from the region were present at the day-long session.

Learning about Chidambaram’s presence in the city, state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called on him during the lunch session at a five-star hotel in the city centre.

“As it is a courtesy call, no specific issues were discussed,” Siddaramaiah told reporters emerging out of the meeting.