Patna, Sept. 11: The economic slowdown in the country has cast a shadow on the execution of various key infrastructure projects in the state.
Against the backdrop of lukewarm response from investors to the public-private partnership (PPP)-based infrastructure development projects in the state, the slowdown in economy and poor rate of implementation of government-funded projects in the core infrastructure sectors like road and power are believed to have raised scepticism in the minds of external funding agencies to pump in funds in the engineering procurement contract (EPC) module-based projects. Under the EPC mode, the government raises funds through financing agencies.
Senior officials of departments like road construction and urban development and housing are sceptical about generation of funds for projects such as Patna Metro rail project and a suspended cable bridge over the Ganga.
“The present scenario in the infrastructure sector is not very encouraging. We shall have to strive a lot more for getting funds to execute big projects till the conditions normalise. I am planning to hold investors’ meet in big cities like New Delhi and Mumbai to lure bidders for an upcoming six-lane suspension cable bridge over the Ganga between Kachchi Dargah in Patna City and Bidupur in Vaishali,” said Pratyaya Amrit, the road construction secretary.
Pratyaya had strived hard to get bidders for the Ganga driveway project under the PPP mode. After all his efforts failed, the state government decided to execute the project in the EPC mode.
Like Pratyaya, Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) officials recently conducted investors’ meet in New Delhi and Mumbai to woo investors for their PPP-based residential and commercial projects in the city. The last date for submission of bids for the development of around 1,600 flats at Kankerbagh is September 20, but BSHB has still not received a single bid.
“Various big firms like Gammon India Private Limited, Kalpataru Constructions, Ashiana Homes, IL&FS and Merlin Group participated in the meet but none has submitted a bid yet. To lure the firms, we have relaxed certain conditions such as procuring environmental clearances. Earlier, the firm was supposed to get the clearance but now BSHB would get it for them,” said a senior official of BSHB.
Plans are afoot to handle the Patna Metro rail project similarly. “We are planning to form a corporation and seek funds from external funding agencies,” said S. Siddharth, the urban development and housing secretary.
External funding agencies, on the other hand, blamed the state government for creating a negative environment for investment in the infrastructure sector. “The progress of all four projects in the second phase of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-supported programmes in Bihar has not been more than 30-35 per cent though the project deadline is almost over. All the projects related to road development were sanctioned in 2010 with funding to the tune of $300 million. Though the project period was of three years, the state government failed to discharge its own obligation related to land acquisition, prompting the delay. Conditions like these are perceived as a negative zone for investors,” said a senior official of ADB in Bihar.