The Telegraph
Saturday , June 14 , 2014
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Portal push to Jharkhand Inc.
- Optimism on forest & environment clearance, silence on land posers

Ranchi, June 13: Jharkhand’s stalled mega investment projects in infrastructure, mining, steel and other sectors may hope to get a positive push with a dedicated state-specific portal of Project Monitoring Group (PMG), launched today.

Jharkhand has become the seventh state after Odisha, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka to get its own PMG portal. A creation of UPA-II that functions centrally under the cabinet secretariat, the PMG, under the present BJP government, is now getting state-specific units for trouble-shooting.

Anil Swarup, additional secretary and chairman of PMG at the cabinet secretariat, did the honours at the high-profile launch at a city hotel this evening, fresh from a review meeting at Project Building on Jharkhand’s big-ticket investment projects that were either stalled or going slow.

“From July 1 onwards, the portal will facilitate transparent forest clearances. Environment clearances are expected to be taken up after September 1,” Swarup told The Telegraph after the portal’s launch.

However, Swarup stayed diplomatically silent on the most contentious issue of land acquisition.

A few corporate representatives present at the launch lauded the beginning, but doubted if the portal would be effective in solving land acquisition and transfer issues.

Tata Steel’s chief resident executive Satish Singh and Ranchi-based head of Tata Power D. Santra spoke on how the process of land acquisition delayed projects.

Industry majors such as Essar Power, Tata Power, Tata Steel, JSPL have been raising their concerns over specific land related acts such as CNT and SPT, the abundance of non-digitised land records that gives birth to confusions and agitations, CAMPA provisions related to forestland and so on.

Accepting the worries of the corporate representatives, Swarup conceded: “That’s an area of serious concern.”

But he did not put forth any suggestions.

However, industry insiders are also hoping that the portal, a web-based inter-departmental platform that aims to push for statutory clearances related to land, water, forest and bust law and order problems, if any, within a stipulated timeframe, will at least shake up the inertia surrounding projects.

As the bottlenecks put projects in the backburner, investors — across a spectrum of sectors — rue that financiers develop cold feet.

This is something Swarup was made painfully aware in the review meeting at Project Building between 4pm and 5.30pm.

Swarup, with a high-level delegation of acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty, as well as secretaries of home (N.N. Pandey), revenue and land reforms (J.B. Tubid), road construction (Rajbala Verma), forest and environment (Alka Tiwari), industry (Himani Pande), mining (Arun) and industries director D. Panda, reviewed mega projects that had not made headway in years.

They included projects undertaken by Indian Oil Corporation Limited, National Highways Authority of India, Electrosteel Castings Limited, JSW Steels Limited, Jindal Steel & Power Limited, Abhijeet Group, Adhunik Group and Reliance’s Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project.

Though a senior official present at the meeting trotted out the standard reply that “all agreed problems concerning mega projects in the state should be resolved at the earliest”, others said no solutions had emerged.

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