Rs 70,000 crore investments cleared by CCI in 3 months

Investments of Rs 70,000 crore held up at various stages have been cleared by the new Cabinet Committee on Investments within three months, the government has claimed. The sum is about a tenth of the estimated investment backlog that has built up in the economy due to a raft of policy issues.

The committee chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has met four times since it was set up in December last year. The clearances mean the projects can move for their financial closure now, freed of all red tape. Bankers have said the reasons for credit to slow in the economy is the delay in government clearances. Credit growth from the banks for the latest reported fortnight has fallen to 13 per cent.

A government release issued on Friday noted that the projects cleared include conditional clearance for oil and gas blocks. Investments to the tune of about Rs. 56,921 crore were held up in these projects. In the power sector, NTPC's proposed 1,980 MW project in Jharkand's North Karanpura area pending for the past 13 years was cleared by the committee at a cost of Rs 14,000 crore.

Both NTPC and Coal India Limited were locked in a turf war on the project. While CIL claims it will lose 6 billion tonne of coal underneath the project NTPC had claimed it has already invested Rs 500 crore in the project as the reason to continue.

In the environment sector the CCI has cleared coal ministry's proposal to fast-track implementation of twelve projects stranded due to green clearances. These projects would free 36.97 million tonne of coal annually and bring in investment of Rs 1347.63 crore.

The committee has also prevailed on the environment ministry to allow mining projects to take off in non-forested areas. The ministry had to relax its guidelines at the behest of the committee to allow creation of certain critical infrastructure in 82 districts in the country allowing diversion of forest land up to 5 hectares.

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