If justice delayed is justice denied, then a project delayed is, more often than not, a lost project that never gets to see the light of day. Despite witnessing growth in almost all spheres, India continues with its relentless delays in mega projects, both at Central and state levels. Such delays result in escalating the cost of projects by crores of rupees. This delay is also retarding the economic growth of the country.

Economic growth is the addition to the value of goods and services one possesses. So when cost and the time period for the work increases, there is a decline in the growth process of the economy, as there is no addition in the value of the product. The same product, which was to be produced at a lower price, is now being produced at a higher price and at a later time. We can say that delay increases the cost and thus hampers the national growth. Many of the big projects have been delayed by few months to unbelievable 13 years.

The recent flash report on Central sector projects says that some 234 out of 515 central projects, each estimated to cost Rs 100 crores and above, had been delayed from the expected date of commissioning, as of March. Over half of the infrastructure projects that are being executed by the government in vital areas, such as atomic energy, railways, power, telecommunications and petroleum, have been delayed, resulting in a cost overrun of over 10 per cent.

The story is same everywhere and Mumbai is no different. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) told the team of World Bank officials that the rail component of MUTP has gone up from Rs 3,140 crores to Rs 3,778 crores. The cost of the two crucial road components Jogeshwari-Vikhroli link road (JVLR) and Santacruz-Chembur link road (SCLR) has also shot up by Rs 72.33 crores and Rs 115.39 crores, respectively.

The reasons for delay might be plenty but the bureaucratic hurdles and poor planning ranks on the top. The implementation status of projects and the performance of infrastructure sectors are a sad saga of government delays and colossal waste of public money. Indian government projects have been heavily criticised since decades for the cost escalation caused by procrastination. And matters have not changed even today. Development is the buzzword today in emerging India, even as the country resolves to build an economically stronger and more efficient set-up, which is devoid of bureaucratic delays. But that does not seem to be happening right now and is still a utopian dream.

Due to this very reason, many foreign players and investors are not ready to invest in India as they feel that their money might not be properly utilized due to undue government interference and delays. Now you know why India desperately needed liberalisation and privatisation. Unless there are legal clauses for penalising the developers in case of major delays, it’s futile to expect things to improve on their own.

Rishabh Srivastava

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