Editorial Articles

Issue no 11, 11 - 17 JUNE 2022


Pm Gati-Shakti National Master Plan Paradigm Shift In Governance & Creating Inclusive Infrastructure

Dr Ranjeet Mehta

2022 is a very special year as India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to commemorate 75 years of independence and the glorious history of its people, culture, and achievements. As India is poised to rise steadily on the path of becoming a global power, our actions hold tremendous possibilities both for our people and the world in general. This presents us with both the opportunity and mandate to envision the New India we aspire to create and the world order we wish to shape.

Infrastructure is a key driver for the Indian economy. The quality of a nation's infrastructure is a critical index of its economic vitality. Reliable transportation, clean water, and safe deposit of wastes are basic elements of a civilized society and a productive economy. India's economy is big and getting bigger. Some estimates suggest that India is poised to become the third largest economy by 2030. The impor-tance of infrastructure for sustained economic development is well recognized. Physical infrastructure covering transportation, power and communication through its backward and forward linkages, facilitate growth, social infrastructure including water supply, sanitation, sewage disposal, education and health, which are in the nature of primary services and has a direct impact on the quality of life. The performance of infrastructure is largely a reflection of the performance of the economy.

Faster clearances and dispute resolution, last mile funding and easier exits for companies are among steps taken by the Modi Government to help the infrastructure sector since it came to power in May 2014. With the Government permitting 100% FDI in the road and highway sector, several foreign companies have formed partnerships with Indian players to capitalise on the sector's growth.

It is essential to think big when seeking to make a difference, for transformation does not come from modest plans. Keeping in mind the aspirations of New India, what would we like to see in the proposed $5 trillion economy? Certainly, it will require design, funding and governance. There is a focus of the government on smoothening the process for private investments in infrastructure and other areas where the government is unable to make investments, given its fiscal compulsions. Government has continued to create an enabling environment by setting in motion structural reforms, clarity in policy and processes, efficiency in allocation risk and resources.

Need for Swiftly Creating Powerful Infrastructure

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the 'PM Gati Shakti' - a Rs 100 lakh crore National Master Plan on October 13, 2021 for multi-modal connectivity and development of holistic Infrastructure. The Prime Minister said, "It will help India realize it's dream of becoming the business capital of the world."

The PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan is based on the following six pillars:-

·         Comprehensiveness: It will include all the existing and planned initiatives of various ministries and departments within one centralised portal. Each and every department will now have visibility of each other's activities providing critical data while planning and executing projects in a comprehensive manner. 

·         Prioritisation: Different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross-sectoral interactions. 

·         Optimisation: The National Master Plan will assist different ministries in planning for projects after identification of critical gaps. For transportation of goods from one place to another, the plan will help in selecting the most optimum route in terms of time and cost.

·          Synchronisation: Individual ministries and departments often work in silos. There is a lack of coordination in planning and implementation of the project, resulting in delays. PM Gati Shakti will help in synchronising activities of each department, as well as of different layers of governance, in a holistic manner by ensuring coordination of work between them. 

·         Analytical: The plan will provide entire data at one place with GIS-based spatial planning and analytical tools having over 200 layers, enabling better visibility to the executing agency.

·         Dynamic: All ministries and departments will now be able to visualise, review and monitor the progress of cross-sectoral projects, through the GIS platform, as satellite imagery will give onground progress periodically, and progress of the projects will be updated on a regular basis on the portal. It will help in identifying vital interventions for enhancing and updating the Master Plan.

The PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (NMP) is the third big step and a long impending reform in the direction of infrastructure development in India after the National Infrastructure Pipeline, and the National Monetization Pipeline. Gati Shakti is a campaign to lend more speed (Gati) and power (Shakti) to projects by connecting all concerned departments on one platform. This way, infrastructure schemes of various ministries and state governments will be designed and executed with a common vision.

The Government of India has identified 81 high-impact projects across multiple infrastructure ministries. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is responsible for half of the 81 high-impact projects listed, followed by others. National Industrial Corridor Development Corporation’s (NICDC) major industrial corridors, key expressways and highways, including the 1,257-kilometer AmritsarJamnagar expressway, 1,350- kilometer Delhi-Mumbai expressway, and 210-kilometer DelhiSaharanpur-Dehradun expressway, as well as the world's largest broadband project BharatNet, will be among the government's priority projects.

Furthermore, focus is on providing assistance and training to states and ministries so that they can use Gati Shakti. A network planning group, made up of officials from multiple ministries, has been established to guarantee that projects are planned in accordance with the master plan. More than 400 data layers with information regarding forest land and available industrial estate are available in the Gati Shakti National Master Plan. As a result, project alignment and other types of permissions will be feasible right at the DPR stage.

The Gati Shakti Master Plan will use geo-mapping and realtime data in one centralised portal to ensure that key departments and states have visibility over major projects being planned, especially the ones which have multi-sectoral and multi-regional reach. Sixteen Central Government departments, including Railways, Roads and Highways, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, Aviation and others will be a part of this initiative.

Each and every department will now have visibility of each other's activities providing critical data while planning and execution of projects in a comprehensive manner. Through this, different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross-sectoral interactions. It is apparent that most of the mega projects under the Rs 110 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline will be monitored under Gati Shakti.

Gati Shakti will incorporate infrastructure schemes of various Union Ministries and state governments - Bharatmala Pariyojana, Sagarmala, UDAN, inland waterways, dry/land ports, etc. The plan will also ensure quick completion of works with cost efficiency. The idea is to get all relevant stakeholders aligned for creating the right size infrastructure at a suitable location expeditiously.

What is Envisaged under Gati Shakti?

·         The plan includes 11 industrial corridors, achieving Rs 1.7 lakh crore turnover in defence production and having 38 electronics manufacturing clusters and 109 pharma clusters by 2024-25. 

·         The National Master Plan fixes targets up to 2024-25 for all infrastructure ministries. For the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the target is to have national highways of two lakh km, completion of four- or six-lane national highways of 5,590 km along coastal areas and all state capitals in the North-East to be connected with four-lane national highways or two two-lane national highways. 

·         For the Railways, the target by 2024-25 is to handle cargo of 1,600 million tonne from 1,210 million tonne in 2020, decongesting 51 percent of the Railway network by completing additional lines and implementation of two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs).

·         In Civil Aviation, the target is to double the existing aviation footprint to have a total of 220 airports, heliports and water aerodromes by 2025 which will mean building additional 109 such facilities by then. In Shipping, the target by 2024-25 is to have total cargo capacity to be handled at the ports at 1,759 million tpa from 1,282 million tpa in 2020. 

·         The gas pipeline network in the country is aimed to be doubled to 34,500 km by 2024-25 by building an additional 17,000 km long trunk pipeline connecting major demand and supply centres for industries, as per the plan. In Power Lines, total transmission network by 2024-25 is targeted to be 4.52 lakh circuit km and renewable energy capacity will be increased to 225 GW from 87.7 GW presently.

PM Gati Shakti is a transformative approach for economic growth and sustainable development and driven by the following seven engines:-

1. Railways

2. Roads

3. Ports

4. Waterways

5. Airports

6. Mass Transport

7. Logistics Infrastructure

All 7 engines will pull forward the economy in unison. These engines are supported by the complementary roles of Energy Transmission, IT Communication, Bulk Water & Sewerage, and Social Infrastructure. The approach is powered by Clean Energy and Sabka Prayas - the efforts of the Central Government, the state governments, and the private sector together - leading to huge job and entrepreneurial opportunities for all, especially the youth. The focus will be on planning, financing including through innovative ways, use of technology and speedier implementation.

To conclude, the Gati Shakti programme marks a paradigm shift in decision making to break the silos of departmentalism. PM Gati Shakti will address past issues through institutionalizing holistic planning for stakeholders for major infrastructure projects. Instead of planning & designing separately in silos, infra projects are now expected to be designed and executed with a common vision. Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agri zones will also be covered to improve connectivity and make Indian businesses more competitive.

In this plan, all the existing and proposed economic zones have been mapped along with the multi-modal connectivity infrastructure in a single platform. Individual projects of different line Ministries would be examined and sanctioned in future within the parameters of the overall Plan, leading to synchronisation of efforts. Gati Shakti will bring synergy to create a world class, seamless multi-modal transport network in India. The National Master Plan will employ modern technology and the latest IT tools for coordinated planning of infrastructure. A GIS-based Enterprise Resource Planning system with 200+ layers for evidencebased decision-making is one example. The use of satellite imagery for monitoring is another. Digitization will play a big role in ensuring timely clearances and flagging potential issues, and in-project monitoring as well.

Gati Shakti plan will give a new direction to the development of modern infrastructure through planning, implementation and monitoring, besides cutting down on time and cost overruns of projects. Increased investment in infrastructure would not only create demand in the economy but also it would make growth - sustainable, equitable, and inclusive and create huge employment opportunities. Due to the multiplier effect, one rupee spent on infrastructure ends up as Rs. 2.5 in the economy. If the multiplier effect of infrastructure investments on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is to be maximized within a short time frame, it is critical that specific infrastructure projects which form part of critical trade routes, both internal and external, be prioritized.

The wide gap between macro planning and micro implementation, problems of lack of coordination, lack of advance information, and thinking and working in silos are leading to hampered construction and wastage of budget, therefore the Gati Shakti National Master Plan will address these issues and working on the basis of the master plan will lead to optimum utilization of resources.

India has a high logistics cost of around 13 percent of GDP, because of unplanned development which had left ports without rail lines, manufacturing hinterland without access to coasts, and farmers without recourse to markets. As a result, the cost of production goes up and India's export competitiveness comes down, while food inflation rises. Gati Shakti plan will fill these gaps and also leverage technology extensively, including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery developed by Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics.

The fundamental goal of grassroot level development is to create employment, a level of connectivity where all villages have roads, all house-holds have bank accounts, 100% of beneficiaries have an Ayushman Bharat card, and all eligible people have a gas connection via the Ujjwala scheme.

(The author is Senior Industry Advisor, Ph.D. in Management, with over 30 years of experience in leadership roles spread across various sectors. He can be reached at ranjeetmehta@ gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.