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Special Content

Issue No 34, 20-26 November 2021

Gati Shakti-Speed of Nation's Progress

Sameera Saurabh

Gati Shakti is the solution to the problem of information-sharing between ministries and government departments at the Centre. It is an infusion of dynamism in the government's infrastructure projects implementation. Gati Shakti is expected to reform infrastructure development in India like the JAM (Jan Dhan-AadhaarMobile) trinity of Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile communication's impact on the transfer of government benefits to people.

Rationale of Gati Shakti

 The Prime Minister has lamented the fact that the subject of infrastructure in our country has not been a priority for most political parties and is not even visible in their manifesto, despite the fact that it is globally accepted that the creation of quality infrastructure for sustainable development is a proven way, which gives rise to many economic activities and creates employment on a large scale.

The Prime Minister has said that due to the wide gap between macro planning and micro implementation, problems of lack of coordination, lack of advance information, thinking and working in silos are leading to hampered construction and wastage of budget. The energy or speed which can also be expressed as Shakti gets divided instead of getting multiplied or enhanced. The PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan, which was first announced at the Red Fort on August 15 this year on the occasion of the 75th Independence Day, will address this gap as working on the basis of the master plan will lead to optimum utilisation of resources. The PM Gati Shakti Master Plan not only brings together the government process and its various stakeholders but also helps to integrate different modes of transportation which is an extension of holistic governance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan for multimodal connectivity to expedite and bring infrastructure development on a common path on October 13th, 2021. The Rs 100 lakh-crore Gati Shakti plan envisages a centralised portal comprising all existing and planned infrastructure initiatives of as many as 16 Central ministries and departments for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infra connectivity projects.

 Prime Minister Shri Modi while launching Gati Shakti elaborated upon the steps taken to increase the speed of infrastructure development in India. The first interstate natural gas pipeline in India was commissioned in 1987. After this, till 2014, i.e. in 27 years, a 15,000 km long natural gas pipeline was built. Today, work is going on for a more than 16,000 km long gas pipeline across the country and is targeted to be completed in the next 5-6 years.

The Prime Minister said that in the 5 years before 2014, only 1900 km of railway lines underwent doubling. In the last 7 years, more than 9000 kilometres of railway lines have been doubled. In the 5 years before 2014, only 3000 km of railways were electrified. In the last 7 years, more than 24000 kilometres of railway tracks have been electrified. Before 2014, the metro rail was running on only about 250 km of track. Today the metro has been expanded up to 700 km and work is going on in the 1000 km new metro route. In the five years before 2014, only 60 panchayats could be connected with optical fibre whereas in the last 7 years, we have connected more than 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with optical fibre.

 In order to increase the income of the farmers and fishermen of the country, the infrastructure related to processing is also being expanded rapidly. In 2014, there were only 2 Mega Food Parks in the country. Today 19 Mega Food Parks are functioning in the country. Now the target is to take their number to more than 40. There were just 5 waterways in 2014, today India has 13 functional waterways. Turnaround time of the vessels at the ports has come down to 27 hours from 41 hours in 2014.

 The country has realised the pledge of One Nation One Grid. Today India has 4.25 lakh circuit kilometre power transmission lines compared to 3 lakh circuit kilometers in 2014. The Prime Minister has expressed the hope that with the development of quality infrastructure, India can realize the dream of becoming the business capital of the world. He said our goals are extraordinary and will require extraordinary efforts. In realizing these goals, PM Gati Shakti will be the most helpful factor. Just as JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile) trinity revolutionized the access of government facilities to the people, PM Gati Shakti will do the same for the field of Infrastructure.

The Union Cabinet has approved the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan, aimed at bringing down the logistics cost in the country by integrating the policymaking in the infrastructure space and bringing all stakeholders in India's infrastructure development together. The plan seeks to end bureaucratic entanglements and break inter-ministerial silos with respect to infrastructure projects.

 PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (GSNMP) is designed to pool the collective power of the government to execute infrastructure projects ahead of time. Elimination of wastage of budgets due to delays and overlapping project executions by different government is the crux of the plan. Extending the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat mission - self-reliant India, GSNMP is set to unveil the future of India's employment intensive integrated development for the next 25 years. Presently, the mega projects of Rs.110 trillion marshalled under National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) 2020-25 will be brought under the plan. It digitally brings together 16 critical ministries that includes, importantly, among others - Railways, Road, Highways, Petroleum and Gas, Telecom, Power, Shipping and Aviation.

It is a single interactive platform for the coordination, planning of all infrastructures centric projects under NIP breaking the hitherto inter-ministerial silos. The mutual connectivity among ministries will be established through geomapping of projects to ensure availability of real-time data in one centralized portal to ensure visibility of progress and position of major projects. The live progress will ensure timely support and interventions in seamless execution of projects minimizing the most common risks of time and cost overruns.

Gati Shakti Scheme targets

1. PM Gati Shakti targets to cut logistic costs, increase cargo handling capacity and reduce the turnaround time

2. The plan aims to lend more power and speed to projects by connecting all concerned departments on one platform. The infrastructure schemes of various ministries and state governments will be designed and executed with a common vision.

 3. Gati Shakti joins different departments for the coordinated development of projects from road to railways, aviation to agriculture.

4. The Centre will spend around Rs.50,000 crore to create 500 multi-modal cargo terminals during the next four to five years.

5. PM Gati Shakti plan involves the creation of a common umbrella platform through which infrastructure projects can be planned and implemented in an efficacious manner by way of coordination between various ministries/departments on a real-time basis.

As part of the plan, an Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) headed by the Cabinet Secretary and secretaries of 18 ministries as members, among others, has been set up. It will set out the procedure and definitive framework for synchronization of various activities, and ensure that various initiatives of infrastructure development are part of the common integrated digital platform. Crucially, the group will also look at the interventions required to meet the demand side, in efficiently transporting bulk goods on the requirement of various Ministries like Steel, Coal, Fertilizer, etc. The PM Gati Shakti NMP is intended to break Departmental Silos and bring in more holistic and integrated planning and execution of projects with a view to addressing the issues of multimodal connectivity and last-mile connectivity.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has also approved the formation, composition and terms of reference for Network Planning Group (NPG) consisting of heads of Network Planning wing of respective infrastructure ministries and it will assist the EGOS. The NPG will be supported by a technical support unit (TSU) located in the Logistics Division. The government believes this will work towards overall integration of networks, enhancing optimization to avoid duplication of works for holistic development of any region as well as reducing logistics costs through micro plan detailing.

 The TSU will have domain experts from various infrastructure sectors, such as aviation, maritime, public transport, rail, roads and highways, ports, power, pipeline, GIS, ICT, finance/market PPP, logistics, data analytics, among others.

Gati Shakti implementation will also depend on the development of:

1. Stakeholder synergies:

Spread over a long period of 25 years, GSNMP provides to develop 11 industrial corridors, two defense corridors in Tamil Nadu and UP. Coverage of all villages with 4G network, expansion of national highways network up to 2 lakh kilometers, building 220 new airports, helicopters and water aerodromes, 17000 km of new gas pipeline are some of the targets set under the plan.

 It intends to rope in state governments and local municipalities to join the platform so that information and data on all infrastructure and connected projects can be shared to draw the synergy of each other. Since the plan is long drawn, a network planning group with representatives from all stakeholder ministries will be set up to meet regularly to ensure coordination and an empowered group can bring about changes to the national master plan, if and when needed. The very thought process and spirit of the plan rests on three strategic pillars - Coordination, Cooperation and Commitment of respective ministries. Plugging of leakages and interdepartmental conflict resolution can be the game changer of the plan.

2. Financing infrastructure:

 Drawing from the spirit of GSNMP, the financial sector has to gear up to improve capacity to lend and assist the infrastructure projects and their satellite ancillaries. Capacity building will need better risk management skills, enhanced capital base, speeding up of debt resolution processes and added scalability of risk appetite of banks and non-banks to participate in the changed business environment - post pandemic.

3. Status of credit information:

Inability to read the riskiness of infrastructure loans is mainly due to information asymmetry in the credit market. Adequate qualitative, near-live information about state of the borrowers/ projects can mitigate risks to a large extent as timely interventions will be possible. It can largely address the issue of 'adverse selection' and 'moral hazard'. Sharing of credit information by a credit institution to a central agency is in the public interest and globally used as one of its objective to mitigate credit risk.

The way forward:

The project is expected to bring about conceptual change visualised by PM Modi. The ministries will no longer be working in silos and integrate the planning and designing of projects with a holistic vision. This will enhance the ease of doing business for many and bring about economic growth, faster planning, and execution of projects. The National Master Plan is therefore, expected to enhance India's global competitiveness through building next-generation infrastructure and seamless movement of information and resources. Digitisation and digital technologies enabled by resilient wire line and wireless broadband connectivity will be a cornerstone for the work to be done under the ambitious Gati Shakti - National Master Plan for Multi Modal Connectivity. The EGOS has been mandated to review and monitor the implementation of the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (NMP) to ensure logistics efficiency. It is empowered to prescribe framework and norms for undertaking any subsequent amendments to the NMP.

Gati Shakti was launched by the Hon'ble PM on the auspicious day of Ashtami, the day of worshiping Shakti thereby signifying that the speed of nation's progress is also getting new Shakti. The PM Gati Shakti National Master plan will take the confidence of India to new heights and the Masterplan will give impetus to 21st century India.

(The author is Director, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India)