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Project agencies under govt pressure

The industries department seems unhappy with the functioning of project management agencies appointed to facilitate in bringing investments to the state.

At present, there are four such agencies — all independent bodies.

Industries minister Renu Kumari said the four agencies — IL&FS CDI Limited, Darashaw and Company Private Limited, SREI & FGAPL Consortium and HEBE Financial Services Private Limited — needed to pull up their socks and perform.

Indicating at the appointment of more agencies, she said they would be provided a timeframe to perform and based on the same, the next course of action would be decided.

“The government is not saying that they will be removed for now. But they need to perform and do their job better. They need to bring in more investments into the state. For now, we are just stating the fact that the agencies will have to perform better. The state government is thinking towards an increase in the number of such agencies but a final decision is yet to be taken. They have to pull up their socks,” she said.

The work of these agencies, monitored by a project management committee under senior officials of the department, is to bring in investment by becoming a bridge and a facilitator between the investors, especially those from outside and the state government.

Their work also involves preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for them and help in all forms of clearance required by the state government and get the project approved. They get 2 per cent of the total project cost as their fees. IL&FS, which is based in Mumbai with branches all across the country, has been associated with Bihar since 2006 while the other three have been appointed recently, sources said.

The sources added that the department was thinking towards giving them a deadline to perform.

“It is not that they are not doing anything. But more is expected from them. Though things cannot be divulged at this moment, there are talks about giving them a definite time to perform. However, the department is not talking about any kind of action against them at present. The state needs some big-ticket investments and these agencies should help the government in the same in a better way than present. It can be said that the state government expected good results from the agencies,” a department official told The Telegraph.

One of the officials in an agency said they were working as per the government directive. “Earlier, the government, mainly concentrating in the food processing sector now, had asked us to bring in investments. We have been successful in that. Now, they have asked us to focus on the big-ticket projects. But companies like Keventer, Britannia, Amrapali group have come and more will evince interest. The government has got big aspirations now and we are okay with it. We have not heard anything more other than this,” an official at IL&FS said.

On the other hand, the government has given a nod to the ITC’s milk processing venture in the state.

“ITC already has a cigarette manufacturing and packaging unit in Munger district for 96 years now. The milk processing plant will come up in the same district at a cost of Rs 150 crore. The plant, when completed, will have the capacity to process 10 lakh litres of milk per day along with other dairy products,” a department official said.

A state government document states the primary role of project management agencies will be to assist the Bihar government in effective implementation of the food processing policies and action plan under this vision document.

In other words, project management agencies will be the extension of Bihar government in providing need based technical support.

Such technical support by the state government, through a specialised agency, will enable the convergence of the interests of the industry, government and other stakeholders.

For example, in food processing sector, the project management agency will be an independent professional agency with multi- disciplinary skill set and positioned for assisting the Bihar Food Processing Directorate in its efforts to develop the industry within Bihar.

In several institutes, project management is also taught as a management discipline. It underpins much economic activity in industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, software and aerospace, projects drive business. In the public sector, it is effective project management that translates politicians’ promises of new roads, schools and hospitals into gleaming new constructions that improve everyday life.