PM Gati Shakti : National Infrastructure Master Plan – UPSC GS3

Gati Shakti: National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity:
  • PM GatiShakti is a digital platform that connects 16 ministries including Roads and Highways, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, and Aviation, with a view to ensuring holistic planning and execution of infrastructure projects.
  • Aim: PM Gati Shakti aims to institutionalize holistic planning for major infrastructure projects. The projects will be designed and executed with a common vision and will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various ministries and state governments such as the Bharatmala road project, Sagarmala waterways plan, ports and the UDAN scheme.
  • Coverage: Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, Agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive.
  • It will also leverage technology extensively, including spatial planning tools with ISRO’s satellite imagery. This will be used for real-time monitoring of projects.
What services will be provided by the PM Gati Shakti?
  • Planning and obtaining clearances: The portal will offer 200 layers of geospatial data, including on existing infrastructure such as roads, highways, railways, and toll plazas, as well as geographic information about forests, rivers and district boundaries to aid in planning and obtaining clearances.
  • Centralised tracking of projects: The portal will also allow various government departments to trackin real-time and at one centralised place, the progress of various projects, especially those with multi-sectoral and multi-regional impact.
  • Prioritize projects: Through Gati Shakti, different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross-sectoral interactions”.
  • Project clearances: The portal will also highlight all the clearances that any new project would need, based on its location — and allow stakeholders to apply for these clearances from the relevant authority directly on the portal. The objective is to streamline the process and shorten the period required for clearances.
How PM Gati Shakti will help India’s development?
  • Bring the economy out of pandemic impacts: If the Gati Shakti National Master Plan is implemented swiftly, then the Indian economy can achieve a significant growth trajectory by mitigating the impacts of the pandemic.
  • Solve issues in logistics: According to a study, the logistical cost in India is about 13%-14% of GDP as against about 7-8% of GDP in developed economies. The plan will help India to cut down its logistics cost.
  • Help in increasing economic zones and industrial parks: Currently, a number of economic zones and industrial parks are not able to reach their full productive potential due to inefficient and fragmented multi-modal connectivity.
  • Reduce implementation overlaps: Poor Infrastructure planning at present results in various challenges. For example, newly-built roads are being dug up by the water department to lay pipes and construction of different tunnels for roads and railways in the same area. The National Master plan will help to avoid such implementation overlaps. For instance, if a railway line is being built, the Ministry of Road Transport may immediately give clearance for an overpass, and the Power Ministry can begin projects to ensure that trains can immediately have access to power on completion of the tracks.
  • Save taxpayers money: PM Gati Shakti would address the problem of government departments and Ministries working in silos. There is a wide gap between macro planning and micro implementation, problems of lack of coordination in infra projects and lack of advanced information. This hampers the construction and wastage of the budget.
  • Help in reducing human intervention within ministry: Currently, any inter-ministerial issues that arise relating to a project are addressed in regular meetings of infrastructure-related ministries. The Gati Shakti portal would help reduce the human intervention required as ministries will be in constant touch.
What are the challenges associated with the functioning of PM Gati Shakti?
  • Investments from states: The Economic Survey for 2020-21 underscored the role of active Centre-State partnerships for infrastructure building. The Survey projects maximum investments towards NIP sectors such as energy, roads, urban infrastructure and railways for FY 2021 and 22, with about ₹8.5-lakh crore to be invested by either side annually. With the pandemic and its associated challenges, the state governments don’t have enough finances to invest such large amounts. This will delay the implementation of the master plan.
  • Low Credit Off-take: According to the RBI’s paper, the growth rate in credit off-take has steeply declined to 5.8% in November 2020, as against 14.2% in 2013. This will reduce private investment in infrastructure projects. At present, there are concerns about the declining credit offtake trends from banks as they don’t want to get into another Non-Performing Asset (NPA) crisis in future.
  • The plan does not address a few key infrastructural challengesLand acquisition is often the biggest impediment in the development of India. Many development projects get delayed due to land acquisition issues. Further, these delays add up to the costs of many projects, making them a less efficient and more costly project for development. There are other issues such as litigation issuesalienation of local communities and the violation of environmental norms, etc.
How can India improve the implementation of PM Gati Shakti?
  • Address certain key issues: To the proper implementation of PM Gati Shakti, India needs to address structural and macroeconomic stability concerns, emanating from high public expenditure.
  • Tackle land acquisition decisions: With the availability of Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing technologies under the master plan, the policymakers have to do well to reclaim lands already subjected to degradation and pollution, rather than alienate controversial new parcels.
  • Solve the credit offtake challenge: The Economic Survey for 2020-21 mentioned that India needs ₹4.5-lakh crore investments per year from the private sector to boost NIP sectors. So, the government has to address the issues associated with low credit offtake for successful private investments.
  • Incorporate the digital features in all spheres: This can be done by adding optical fibres along with railway lines and gas pipelines. India also needs digital solutions for aggregation of demand and supply, which can be done by bringing the open network and open protocols under the Gati Shakti initiative.
  • Improve the performance of roads: India needs to improve the performance of roads for a smooth supply of goods. Roads should be made smart with automatic monitoring of traffic, drone-based support, including drone-based monitoring of maintenance of assets.
What are the past initiatives to boost infrastructure?
Some of the mega initiatives include:
  • Sagarmala
  • Bharatmala
  • Establishment of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund
  • Revisiting Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models on the lines of the Kelkar Committee recommendations
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