January 17th, 2016
It is a common sight in India when it comes to delayed projects blocking roads or project’s overshooting their allocated budgets by many folds. Government agencies and departments are quite often branded as inefficient and a hub for corruption more in particular for the Public Works Department. Up north in Delhi all these cliché’s and age-old notions are being blown to smithereens. In a recent development the PWD department under the government of Delhi has completed three projects well below the sanctioned cost saving the government valuable money worth Rs 350 crores. The money saved from the projects are to be diverted to provide free medicines in the 38 government hospitals spread across Delhi.
“Public Works Department (PWD), headed by Home Minister Dr Satyender Jain and I had estimated that if we want to provide facilities such as x-ray, ultrasound, blood tests and medicines for free in government hospitals we would have to set aside around Rs 350 crore. Now the money saved in building the elevated corridors will be used for this purpose which is your right,” Kejriwal said.
Why are these positive developments that ought to be welcomed and appreciated? Here are some data
■ A Livemint report says, Four out of every 10 central government infrastructure projects are running behind schedule or have overshot original cost.
■ The cost of one of these projects is expected to increase 20 times and another is set to miss its original completion date by 21 years, according to data shared by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi) .
■ ONGC’s project to develop G1 and GS-15 oilfields off the coast of Andhra Pradesh is facing the second-highest cost overrun of 820% and a delay of more than nine years. (source Live Mint)
■ In one instance, the original cost of a railway track conversion project on the Bankura-Damodar stretch in West Bengal has increased more than 20 times from Rs.111.9 crore to Rs.2,371.85 crore since 1998, when it was first approved. The project, being executed by South Eastern Railway, is now likely to be commissioned in 2019, a delay of 14 years from its original timeline. According to a report on Live mint
There is not much to be concluded from the above story, yet it is a good start and a great blue print for good governance. Corruption and efficiency are more often linked closely, if the government has showed efficiency, more likely than not, it is due to due to a tangible decrease in corruption. Delhi Chief Minister does not seem to be content with what the PWD has achieved and has vowed to transform the PWD into the “best” engineering department in the country. There is no dearth for ambition but one can only wait and see if these ambitions could become a reality.
We recognize the problem of project overruns and cost escalation which has hurt and hampered India’s growth and progress. We also recognize that corruption and bureaucratic hassles are the prime reasons for the same. In the backdrop of such a bleak picture, we commend the Delhi Government, the PWD department of Delhi for achieving this feat. Hopefully, it will inspire departments and governments across India to increase efficiency and decrease corruption.