Last minute efforts to stall delays Sunday, Jan 17 2010 

Vizhinjam projects

A common factor of the the wave energy project and the latest transshipment termimal project at Vizhinjam was delay and cost escalation

The Kerala government is looking for ways to avoid delays in implementation of its programmes and projects. It has been proposing many things for the past three and a half years. But it is no where near completing implementation of most of them. All it has done is to delay projects like the Kerala Transport Project and City Improvement Project started by the previous government.

It is learned that Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has asked former Chief Secretary V. Ramachandran to submit a report on avoiding delays. However, no miracles could be expected in the fourth year of LDF government as a result of the report. Mr. Ramachandran can take credit for many things but he don’t have a reputation for doing anything spectacular to avoid delays when he was the Chief Secretary and Vice Chairman of the State Planning Board. What he could not do when he had executive power is not going to be achieved through his desk work.

Moreover, his experience is with the civil service. The major chunk of the problem lies with the politicians and not the civil service. Civil service can be improved upon only if the politicians show the will to do so. First of all, accountability should be ensured. The current level of protection guilty officials get should be removed by changing rules regarding suspensions and dismissals. A fast track and independent system (devoid of political interference) should established in government to enquire into charges against officials and take disciplinary action.

Currently, the administration is being managed by private staff of the Ministers and party men in Secretariat associations. This situation should change. Department heads and other officials should be given functional freedoms while maintaining accountability. Ministers and their staff should not interfere in day to day functioning of officials but set policies and see to it that they are implemented.

Governance today is complex and it needs dedicated work. Ministers should remain in offices and do their work instead of going around the State for most days of the week. Several Ministers and officials now push only the projects in which they have monetary (read corruption) or political interest. Other projects remain unattended. This problem can only be addressed by voters who should elect representatives who have a commitment to the State’s development.

The Opposition should form shadow cabinets and do detailed preparatory work for assuming office, if they are elected to power. The should have their plans ready the very day them assume office.

Infrastructure projects fail to take off Wednesday, Jul 8 2009 

Trivandrum City Roads Project

Trivandrum City Roads Improvement Programme

Important infrastructure projects in Kerala are failing to take off owing to politicking. The Vizhinjam International Transshipment Terminal Project and Smart City Project were undermined by inner party rivalries in the CPI (M).

When Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan pushed forward the Smart City Project, the Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem tried to promote other projects for formation of Special Economic Zones. Competitive politics delayed decisions. In the case of Vizhijam project, the two groups in the party tried to push the cause of competitive bidders for the project. The result of continuing litigation which has stalled the project for an indefinite period.

The Kerala Transport Project and Thiruvananthapuram City Improvement Scheme were project taken up by the previous UDF Government and the Left suspected corruption in the contract. For the very reason, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac took on the contractors, but ended up giving the contract back to the very same contractors at a higher rate. These projects are now struggling for completion.

The only silver line is initiatives for the Kochi Metro Rail project. The Centre would also be completing the Vallarpadam project as the State Government has completed land acquisition after much delay. However, proposed  railway coach factory and wagon factory are still in paper.

The renovation of Sabarigiri project is progressing only slowly. The Ramackalmedu wind power projects too is stalled.