They say 'good things come to those who wait'. But if we go by the Indian government's timeline we would be waiting all our lives and nothing good would ever come out of it. Government delays for projects are pretty much expected in this country. If at all projects do start, they rarely finish on time. But, India is facing a widening deficit, and these delays are just piling up more pressure on the country's finances.
The private sector is supposed to provide a big thrust towards infrastructure in the country. But, these corporate are getting more and more frustrated with the lengthy process to for government approvals and permissions. Most stakeholders are suffering as a consequence, especially the taxpayer. A report by the Government's Ministry of Programme Planning & Statistics indicates that cost over-runs are a whopping Rs 1 trillion or US$ 23 billion. And mind you these are only for big ticket projects which are worth Rs 10 bn and above. And the worst part is that these figures just mention the anticipated overrun. The actual figures may end up being much higher.
An article in the Business Standard helps us delve into more details on the same. Some details are telltale and others surprising. In sectors like power, roads, shipping & ports, mines, etc where one sees a lot of debate, delays are marginal. Railways are by far the worst offenders with project delays ranging from 3 to 201 months. The petroleum sector comes next with delays from 16 to 120 months. Water Resources is around 60 months while coal, mines and steel are between 25 and 50 months. Maharashtra leads the pack with the biggest delays and its overruns are more than Rs 100 bn. Delhi, Chhattisgarh, J&K are also achingly slow in implementing projects. Gujarat on the other hand is one state which actually has seen a reduction in project delays.
The government needs to really get its act together in terms of implementing planned projects within a strict budgetary framework. Delays cost money in terms of increased input costs, higher borrowing costs, etc. Punctuality desperately needs to be added to the Indian Standard Time.