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Why delay in infrastructure projects is worrisome

Pooja Bhatia
If we take a macro view on the subject on infrastructure delays in India, then, there were as many as 287 projects delayed, worth Rs 150 crore or above each as per a report by PTI. What’s more amusing is the fact that the final completion cost of these projects overruns the originally estimated cost of implementation. The total cost of implementation of 1186 projects was Rs 14,60,099.70 and the anticipated is 16,26,445.77 crore. 

Now, let us look at some of the big infrastructure projects facing a delay:

Navi Mumbai International Airport- the Rs 16,000 crore project was expected to be completed by 2019 but it now has a new deadline for completion by 2020. It was further estimated that by 2030, the biggest greenfield airport project will serve, 60 million passengers a year, at its maximum capacity. The unprecedented delay will cost how much is anybody’s guess. The reason for its delay is a delay in approval from government agencies and land acquisition issues.

Delhi-Jaipur Expressway- the 225 km expressway, expected to cut down the travel time the two cities by two hours, is facing a delay of two years, from 2017 to 2019 completion extension. There are land acquisition issues in Rajasthan over this rs 18,000 crore project.

Greater Noida Airport- the much awaited Jewar airport in Greater Noida, was first mentioned in 2001, yet, due to financial delays or lack of money as suggested by the Uttar Pradesh government, the project is now scheduled for completion in 2019. It is expected to be built at a cost of 200 billion rupees in the next four to five years. It is expected to cater to 30-50 million passengers in next 10-15 years.

We deliberately choose to discuss end-user projects as there is also an opportunity cost factor involved in the delay of such projects. Mumbai airport, for example, has reached a saturation point and no additional flights can now be added. However, it continues to be the busiest airport. Which in other words means, that we are losing on a big business and economic opportunity. Likewise, Delhi- Jaipur expressway delay means that there is again a loss of productive time and hence an opportunity loss. Also, the delay in expressway construction also affects the commercial and residential real estate scenarios in the surrounding areas. Therefore, such delays should be paid close heed to.

While these are some of the big projects facing a delay, we often face this situation as an urban city resident. One fine example of delay, in the city neighbourhood projects is- Rao Tula Marg. Agreed, Delhi was once a city of broad roads and many flyovers construction, to ease the traffic woes. But now, the extension of Rao Tula Marg, which connects areas of South Delhi to the domestic and international airport in Gurgaon, and which also carries a load of traffic from the sub-city of Dwarka to South Delhi, is under a complete mess. Due to heavy traffic load, it was decided, that a 2.7 km parallel bridge be built to decongest the 900 m long RTR Flyover, but things have been delayed. The project was launched in November 2014 and was initially scheduled to be completed in November 2016. The scheduled date was then changed to September 2017. Now, it is expected to be completed in August 2018. The project was delayed due to funds crunch and residents opposition.

The traffic in the RTR area continues to be a nightmare for the Delhi residents or those taking the Outer Ring Road to reach the airport. So much so for the green capital city of India which was once blessed with a wide network of roads, unlike any other metropolitan city, be it Mumbai or Bangalore.

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