Fast forward: On Gati Shakti National Master Plan

Gati Shakti can cut logistics costs if it can convince all States to come on board

The observations in the Economic Survey for 2020-21 underscore 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, besides ₹4.5-lakh crore per year from the private sector. There is a steep gradient to cover here, as the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt in terms of lost jobs, depressed wages and consumption, while the planners are pinning their hopes on infrastructure projects for a new deal outcome that will boost jobs and demand for goods and commodities, besides attracting major investments. Significant delays to projects can often be traced to incompatible and hostile land acquisition decisions that alienate communities or threaten to violate environmental integrity. Given the Centre’s preference for Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing to identify potential industrial areas, policymakers would do well to reclaim lands already subjected to degradation and pollution, rather than alienate controversial new parcels. Convincing citizens that they stand to benefit from such grand plans through better social welfare, lower service costs and higher efficiencies, and respecting federal boundaries while dealing with the States are other imperatives.

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