Indian Budget 2004-05
Full Text of P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, Budget Speech(July 8, 2004)
47. Sustainable growth depends upon the availability of efficient infrastructure. Government is committed to removing the inadequacies in infrastructure facilities through a mix of policy and fiscal measures.
48. An Inter-Institutional Group in the power sector has succeeded in bringing 6 power projects to financial closure. Another 10 projects are on the verge of achieving financial closure. The concept can be extended to some other infrastructure sectors. I am glad to announce that IDBI, IDFC, ICICI Bank, SBI, LIC, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank have formed an Inter-Institutional Group (IIG). They will pool their resources on a callable basis, and a sum of Rs.40,000 crore will be made available as and when necessary. The IIG will ensure speedy conclusion of loan agreements and implementation of infrastructure projects. Initially, airports, seaports and tourism will be the target sectors of the IIG.
49. The Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission was intended to be implemented in the mission mode. In recent years, however, new programmes have sprung up obscuring the original mission. More than 75,000 habitations are yet to be provided adequate drinking water. Government intends to bring all drinking water schemes under the umbrella of the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission.
50. The Accelerated Rural Water Supply Progamme (ARWSP) has been allocated Rs.2610 crore in the current year. It will focus on renewal of water sources and on serving uncovered and partially covered habitations. Panchayati raj institutions will be encouraged to plan, implement, own, operate and maintain the rural water supply schemes in consultation with the State Governments. Funds will be devolved on Panchayati raj institutions to implement the ARWSP.
51. Likewise, the Urban Water Supply Programme is in operation in urban areas. 2151 towns qualify for consideration under the programme. In the current year a provision of Rs.151.25 crore has been made.
52. The city of Chennai and other cities suffer from acute scarcity of drinking water. It is proposed to install the first large desalination plant near Chennai in the State sector, and more such plants will be installed along the Coromandel coast. A desalination plant with a capacity of 300 million litres per day (MLD) is estimated to cost Rs.1000 crore, and there will be other costs for transmission pipelines and a captive power plant. It is proposed to implement the project through public-private partnership.
Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project
53. The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project is a longstanding
demand – nay dream – of the people of peninsular India. I am happy to inform the House that the Environmental Impact Assessment study of the project has been completed by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur. NEERI is now preparing the techno-economic feasibility report and the report is expected to be submitted shortly. The Ministry of Shipping proposes to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV). The SPV will raise funds for the project and Government will participate in the funding through a mix of equity support and debt-guarantee.
International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam
54. Government attaches high priority to the development and expansion of port infrastructure. Presently, because of inadequate draft and cargo handling infrastructure, and partly due to locational disadvantages, mainline vessels often skip Indian ports. Containers from India are carried to their final destination after transshipment at Colombo, Dubai and other neighbouring ports. Kochi has locational advantages compared to other major Indian ports since it is closer to the main sea routes. Government will facilitate the construction of an International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam in Kochi port on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
55. Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) has been the main instrument to provide housing to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as well as to the non-SC/ST rural poor. Built into IAY is a credit-cum-subsidy scheme for rural households. A subsidy upto Rs.10,000 and loan upto Rs.40,000 are provided to eligible households. The allocation for IAY in BE 2003-04 was Rs.1710 crore. In the current year, I propose to raise the allocation to Rs.2247 crore and, if more money is needed, it will be found within the enhanced Plan outlay.
56. In order to complement IAY, the Golden Jubilee Rural Housing Finance Scheme was launched in August 1997 to give a boost to rural housing. The response has been encouraging, and 10.26 lakh dwelling units have been financed so far. However, the number appears to have stagnated at about 180,000 per year in the last three years. The scheme deserves a further stimulus. I am happy to announce that the National Housing Bank has offered to reduce the rate of refinance by 25 basis points this year. RBI has agreed to revise the norms of re-payment for rural housing loans by banks, so that the instalments coincide with crop cycles. A major impediment to credit for rural housing is absence of proper title to the land. The Government of West Bengal has made a law to simplify the creation of security. It appears to me that the law deserves to be emulated by other States. With these changes, I believe it is possible to set a higher target of 250,000 rural housing units per year.