Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.Reuters

The Finance Ministry on Saturday has constituted a task force to identify technically and economically viable infrastructure projects that can be included in Rs 100 trillion plan in next five years. Moreover, the task force will also identify the infrastructure projects that can be started in running fiscal. Financial daily, Mint reported that the task force will make plan for the 'national infrastructure pipeline' from 2019-20 to 2024-25.

The timing of the formation of the task force is interesting amid the economy registering 5 percent growth, lowest in six years in the April-June quarter. The government has swung into action to bring back India's growth on track as it has targeted to make the country's economy $ 5 trillion by 2025.

In a statement, the finance ministry said, "Availability of quality infrastructure is a pre-requisite to achieve broad-based and inclusive growth on a sustainable basis. Investment in infrastructure is also necessary for sustaining the high growth rate of India. To achieve the GDP of $5 trillion by 2024-25, India needs to spend about $1.4 trillion (Rs. 100 lakh crore) over these years on infrastructure."

The task force will be headed by the finance ministry's economic affairs secretary, officials from the government's policy think tank NITI aayog and other senior officials. The committee will be tasked to estimate annual infrastructure investment costs, make a recommendation to government departments to identify appropriate sources of financing and make the consultation on measures to minimize cost overrun. The statement further added, "The challenge is to step-up annual infrastructure investment so that lack of infrastructure does not become a binding constraint on the growth of the Indian economy."

Indian government has plans to develop mega cities that have robust infrastructure and other civic amenities.
Image taken for representational purposeReuters

The task force has been given time till October 31 to submit its report for 2019-20 and the indicative plan for 2021-25 will be submitted by December 31. The note by finance ministry read, "Each ministry/department would be responsible for the monitoring of projects so as to ensure their timely and within-cost implementation. The task force will also enable robust marketing of the pipeline of projects requiring private investment through the India Investment Grid (IIG), National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), etc."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that the government will spend Rs 100 crore toward infrastructure creation in the next five years. In the last few years, the centre has massively spent on roads, railways, water, irrigation, and urban infrastructure. With the economy showing sluggish growth, it has become imperative for the government to lead the spending and spur growth.