The Prime Minister is set to announce highly ambitious targets for power, road, coal etc. Will he succeed?
Prime minister Narendra Modi would review performance of all ministries related with infrastructure in first week of September, say media reports. During the review meeting, the union government is also set to revise targets for nine infrastructure ministries, power, road transport, shipping, civil aviation, coal, petroleum, railways, telecom and renewable energy.
Last month, the PM met with secretaries of these ministries to review targets of each ministry. During the meeting, Sindhushree Khullar, secretary of Planning Commission, made a 15-page presentation on performance of core infrastructure ministries during 2013-14 and the targets for FY15. According to CNBC TV18, Modi has fixed ambitious targets for each of the sectors. Are these targets feasible? What are the impediments to achieving them?
Coal production: 562mt vs 463mt of last year. Target: 21.4%+
Against the target of 483 million tonnes (mt), the coal production in India actually reached only 463 million tonnes last year. Part of it was attributed to the cyclone Phalin and the monsoon flooding. Progress has been hampered by land acquisition problems and dealing with environmental clearances and so, the chances of reaching a target of 562 million tonnes seems remote.
State-run Coal India Ltd (CIL), the world's largest coal miner, sits on the world's third largest estimated reserves of coal, in the region of some 250 billion tonnes and yet fell 20mt short of its mining target of 482mt in 2013-14. Coal India directly controls, as a holding company, seven collieries and produces 85% of the fuel mined in the country.
According to media reports, over 60,000 mining clearances are pending with various State Governments. Karnataka heads the list with 19,497, followed by Rajasthan at 13.893, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh 7,691, Madhya Pradesh 4,680, Gujarat at 4,517, and Jharkhand at 4,409. Indian mines need to be modernised too.
Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Mines, Steel and Labour therefore, faces the enormous task of clearing all these 63,395 mineral concession applications which are pending with various State Governments. In sorting out the mess, several ministries are involved. How can the Government go about doing this huge task?
Rural Electrification: FY15 15,000 villages against 12,468. Up 20%
During FY15, the government plans to cover 15,000 more villages under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) project. This is an increase of about 20% compared with last year's coverage of 12,468 villages. How easy is this? Given that the government is cash-strapped, it remains to be seen how this would be achieved.
Road project target for FY15 8,500kms against 3169kms. Up 67%
This is one of the most ambitious targets of the Modi government. During FY15, the union government is planning to award projects of 8,500kms of road length. Last year, road projects for only 3,169kms were awarded as against a target of 9,683kms. The main reason was lukewarm response from bidders, problems of land acquisition and failure of public-private partnership (PPP) mode during 2012-13 and 2013-14.
During 2013-14, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had awarded 17 projects for a total length of 1,435.84kms of which two projects are on PPP mode. About 21 projects were bid out by NHAI through PPP mode, but none of the projects received any response.
Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has said that he is trying to take forward road construction projects worth over Rs1.80 lakh crore rupees that are now being stalled by removing various hurdles. Gadkari said there have been huge Non-performing Assets (NPAs) in the banks relating to such road projects amounting nearly to Rs2.40 lakh crore. So, where will the new funding come from, to even complete stalled projects?
In all, the Modi government has set very ambitious targets for the infrastructure sector. Unfortunately, the government can no longer do it. It has no money, no expertise and no accountability. Who will do it, then? The sector is full of debt-laden businesses, run by crony capitalists. Public sector banks are weighed down by bad loans given to infrastructure companies. Where will Modi find additional money to pour into infrastructure? That apart, the rules set by the earlier regime that have hobbled infrastructure companies remain. There have to be fundamental changes in law, bidding process, monitoring and so on. Unless such changes happen, targets set from the ramparts of Red Fort will mean nothing.
Jet Airways' Boeing 777—300, operating flight 9W—228 from Mumbai to Brussels and onwards to Newark, plunged to 29,000 feet from 34,000 feet while traversing on the busy air route to Europe last week
In a major scare, a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Brussels, carrying around 280 passengers, plunged 5,000 feet while overflying Turkish airspace last week as the commander was asleep and the co-pilot busy with the iPad containing flight information.
Terming it as a “serious incident”, India's aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended the two pilots and initiated a probe into the incident.
It has also set up a three-member team to review the airline’s flight training programmes and facilities following the incident last Friday, official sources said, adding the team has been asked to submit their report by 31st August.
DGCA has directed the airline to come forward with all related reports, as well as the records of the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) within this week, they said.
The incident occurred when the Boeing 777—300, operating flight 9W—228 from Mumbai to Brussels and onwards to Newark, plunged from 34,000 feet to 29,000 feet, while traversing on the busy air route to Europe.
As the aircraft descended, the air traffic control at Ankara sent an emergency message to the aircraft asking the pilots why they had deviated from the assigned flight path and directed them to climb up to the designated height immediately.
Both pilots were summoned by DGCA on Wednesday for questioning.
While the commander said he was on “controlled rest”, implying a short nap inside the cockpit, which is allowed by flight operation procedures, the co-pilot told the regulator that she was working on her iPad or the electronic flight bag which has all aircraft documents loaded on to it, the sources said.
Immediately after the Ankara ATC message, the co-pilot woke up the commander who restored the height of the plane.
Confirming the incident, an airline spokesperson said Jet Airways has initiated an internal inquiry into the matter.
“The airline is also extending all co—operation in the matter to the DGCA by providing all necessary assistance for the inquiry. Safety is of paramount importance to Jet Airways as is also the welfare of our guests and crew and the airline will always take appropriate steps to ensure the same,” the spokesperson said.
Adani Power would buy Lanco Infra's thermal power plant for Rs6,000 crore, including a debt of Rs4,000 crore. However, Lanco, headed by 'pepper-spray MP' L Rajagopal has a huge debt of Rs36,000 crore
Adani Power said it would acquire Lanco Infratech Ltd's 1,200MW Udupi thermal plant for Rs6,000 crore, including a debt of Rs4,000 crore. But that is minuscule money because Lanco Infra has a huge debt of Rs36,000 crore and had also obtained a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package. While Adani group would provide Rs2,000 crore cash to Lanco, how it would take care of the CDR package availed by Lanco is not known.
“This transaction will support the company in reducing its debt and will enable Lanco to receive about Rs2,000 crore as cash and additionally, Adani Power will take Udupi plant’s long-time debt of around Rs4,000 crore,” Lanco Infra had said in a statement.
According to reports, Lanco's Udupi thermal plant is India's first independent power plant based on 100% imported coal and has a captive jetty of 4 million tonnes a year. The plant had already signed a deal with Karnataka government to expand its capacity by 1,320MW.
Lanco Infra, headed by Congress leader and former member of Parliament (MP) L Rajagopal, who is better known as 'pepper-spray MP' was in a debt restructuring process. By July 2013, the company had filed for corporate debt restructuring (CDR), citing a business slowdown. Nomura had kept its rating and valuation (target price) on Lanco 'suspended', as it says the company is in the process of restructuring the debt on its standalone balance sheet, by way of reference to the CDR Cell.
"Group net debt-to-equity, including working capital loans of power SPVs and Griffin Coal acquisition debt, stood at 12.7x as of December 2013 compared with 10.7x as of September 2013. Receivables from state discoms stood at Rs2,770 crore as of December 2013 compared with Rs2,940 crore as on September 2013, as impasse on tariff-related issues continued; the decline in receivables was largely on the back of recovery of Rs160 crore from Uttar Pradesh," Nomura said.
Then on 11 December 2013, a consortium of 27 lenders headed by the IDBI Bank cleared an Rs7,000 crore CDR package to release Rs3,500 crore as working capital advance to enable it to resume engineering, procurement and constructions operations. Of this Rs2,500 crore were to be fund based.
Lanco has a total debt of Rs36,000 crore and is reportedly also looking at options to sell its Griffin Coal in Australia which it had bought for $665 million (about Rs4,100 crore) in 2011.
Lanco and Adani closed Thursday 4.92% and 2.9% higher at Rs8.95 and Rs53.55, respectively on the BSE, while the 30-share Sensex ended the day marginally up at 26,103.