Project clearance to be transparent thanks to technology

Forest clearance to go online from July 1, mining clearance to follow soon

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Puja Bhattacharjee | June 18, 2014



The Modi government is going to use information technology to not only clear the logjam of industrial projects but also to bring in transparency in the process.

“We are working to digitise the process. A software programme has been prepared and from July 1 forest clearance will be moved to the web. The environment ministry will set up the software team by September and I hope that by November 1, mining applications will be online too,” Anil Swarup, additional secretary, cabinet secretariat, said in Delhi on Wednesday. He added that even the coal ministry is digitising its processes. “I hope that by the end of this financial year all these processes will be digitized,” he said.

He said concrete steps have been taken to ensure transparency by the project monitoring group (PMG) – a special cell in the cabinet secretariat – via an online portal. PMG has also brought the states on board since the actual industry activities happen on ground. He was confident that many states would roll out state-level PMGs by the end of this month.

Swarup also urged the industry to come up with their wish lists only after assessing practicality and do-ability. He was addressing an interactive meeting on optimizing project clearance framework for stimulating investments in FICCI today.

Arun Kumar, joint secretary, ministry of mines, admitted that his ministry’s procedure of granting project permissions is extremely slow, but they are considering an e-platform base for monitoring sanctions and base lists. He pointed out that legislation is required to tackle the problems plaguing the industry.

“In 2011, a bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha to address various problems related to mining. Following the formation of a new government, we would again need to clear that legal part by either bringing in comprehensive amendments or by going in for a new bill altogether,” he said.  

Naina Lal Kidwai, chairman, India and director, HSBC Asia Pacific, said that transparency without concrete actions will not facilitate project clearances and consequently banks would continue to weaken. “A holistic approach needs to be adopted rather than concentrating on just project-related issues. India is witnessing a decline in investor activity which is a clear indication of investor scepticism,” she said.

Swarup said that much work has to be done as the new government has clearly stated that clearance is not enough and that action on the ground is required.
 

 

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