India launches new transmission project
In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strategy of accelerating development of infrastructure along the country’s frontier and promote manufacturing, India on Monday decided to pursue major electricity transmission projects on its own in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and boost localization of key technologies. A decision to this effect was taken by the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) for the so-called Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening of Transmission and Distribution System in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim—states that border China—at an investment of Rs.4,754.42 crore. India plans to pursue these projects, going it alone if multilateral lending agencies such as the World Bank back out, Mint reported on 8 September. State-owned Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd has planned these strategic electricity transmission links. “After commissioning, the projects will be owned and maintained by the state governments,” the government said in a statement. The decision comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India from 17-19 September. In his election campaign, Modi had promised to take a tough stance on protecting India’s borders with China. India has also stepped up efforts to develop border infrastructure such as roads and railways. Some of the important projects planned for the region include the 670km east-west corridor, connecting state capitals with a broad gauge railway network and developing a new airport in Itanagar. The development of infrastructure in the North-East is also key to the nation’s so-called Look East policy—a focus on South-East Asia. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government also kicked off a Rs.20,000-crore plan to boost localization of key technologies, setting up instrumental facilities such as common engineering facility centres, sector specific integrated industrial facility centres in the capital goods sector with an initial outlay of Rs.931 crore, heavy industries minister Anant Geete said at a media briefing. These technologies are not available for transfer or acquisition. “The total outlay for this project could go up to Rs.20,000 crore and the prime minister has assured that funds will not be a constraint for this project,” Geete said. Mint reported on 19 June about the government’s plan to boost manufacturing of capital goods in the country. Prime Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have placed a special emphasis on manufacturing, in which India lags vastly behind Asian economies such as China, to boost economic growth that slumped to sub-5% levels in each of the past two fiscals. India has set for itself a target of increasing the contribution of manufacturing output to 25% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, from 16% now. Under this scheme, Geete said, the government will set up five centres of excellence for technology development with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kharagpur, and the Central Manufacturing Technology Institute, Bangalore. The key technologies that have been identified include those pertaining to machine tools, earth moving, mining and construction equipment, plastic processing machines, heavy electrical apparatus, metallurgical and textile machines, according to government documents reviewed by Mint. The plan may also see a reworking of the syllabus according to industry needs at engineering institutes and short-term deputation of IIT professors to specific industries as advisers.