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India clears projects worth billions of dollars

BY PRASANTA SAHU AND ANANT VIJAY KALA

NEW DELHI -- An Indian ministerial panel approved 25 oil and gas and 13 power projects involving investments worth billions of dollars as part of its efforts to boost economic growth.

These are among the many projects in India which are facing delays due to bureaucratic red-tape, creating an obstacle to growth in an economy expanding at its weakest pace in a decade. In December, the government set up the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to fast-track industrial and infrastructure projects.

In a meeting, the panel approved 25 oil and gas exploration projects. The defense ministry had objected to these projects due to their proximity to naval bases, missile firing ranges and other defense locations.

Fresh investment of $1.9 billion will now be made over the next three to five years in these 25 projects, the government said in a statement. Investments of $2.71 billion have already been made in them, it added.

The panel also reviewed 20 power projects and approved 13 of them involving investments of $6.1 billion, the government said. These include transmission networks as well as hydroelectric and thermal-power projects which needed clearances mainly from the environment ministry.

The remaining seven power projects involving investments of $6.1 billion still haven' t been cleared. These are facing delays over land acquisition, fuel supply and environmental clearances, the minister said.

The CCI has cleared several large projects in recent months, although many more still need urgent attention. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram recently said as many as 215 projects involving investments of $130 billion  were facing delays.

Meanwhile, a separate cabinet panel decided against allowing Coal India to blend local and imported coal to meet its supply shortfall.

Blending of local and imported coal would have increased costs for power producers which source the fuel from Coal India.

Dow Jones Newswires

04/22/2013

 

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