Chennai: The Cabinet Committee on Investments, which was set up in January for clearing major infrastructure projects, is expected to give its nod for a number of projects within the next three weeks, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said. "My hope is that the Cabinet Committee on Investment in the course of next two to three weeks, will demonstrate that a number of (infrastructure) projects can get cleared," he told a seminar organised by SICCI in Chennai on Friday night.
The Committee had met two or three times already, he said. His comments come close on the heels of the CCI in its first decision on March 20 clearing Reliance Industries' producing KG-D6 block and gas discovery area NEC-25.
This was along with three other areas where the Defence Ministry had either barred oil and gas activity or put stringent conditions on it. Besides, the Environment and Forests Ministry had also informed CCI that it had initiated steps for speedy approval to infrastructure projects, stuck for want of green nod.
Talking about energy prices, Ahluwalia favoured aligning domestic energy prices with global energy prices. "Domestic energy prices have to be more closely aligned to global prices. Very few of my political colleagues would find it easy to persuade their audiences. I have addressed group of MPs trying to make this point that in a world in which energy is expensive, you will be shooting yourself in the foot, by trying to keep energy cheap at home," he said.
He said the government had taken a bold step by increasing diesel prices by around 50 paise every month, with a goal to eliminate under pricing of diesel over an 18-month period. Pitching for a "political consensus" on aligning domestic energy prices with international prices, he said, "if you get that, it would probably be the best things for the Indian economy, in terms of growth potential".
Ahluwalia also said current account deficit remaining high was a matter of great concern. "We need to move over the next two to three years, in a concerted way, in reducing the fiscal deficit, getting rid of supply constraints and solving the regulatory problems with infrastructure projects."
"Most of all, solving the fuel supply problems for the power sector and all this put together will enable the Indian economy to see increase in investments," he said. During the next financial year that is about to begin soon, the emphasis would be "to simply make sure that (India's) infrastructure story, looks very good", he said.
Noting that India should have more projects on power generation, he said such an expansion has been mainly done by the private sector. "We have been very successful in expanding the space in power sector. In 10th plan, we added 21,000 MW. In 11th plan which ended in 2011-12, we added 54,000 MW. In the last year of the plan, we added 22,000 MW which is a little more than the whole of what was done in the 10th Plan," he said.
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