Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday indicated that the Government, with the assistance of the Investment Commission, was actively pursuing the setting up of three mega infrastructure projects in the country involving billions of dollars in foreign direct investment (FDI). Simultaneously, it had drawn up plans for the launch of the third phase of the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP-III), envisaging a total investment of Rs. 50,000 crores, while embarking on major reforms in the coal sector. Revealing these developments at a news conference here, Mr. Chidambaram said that one of the major infrastructure projects in which the Investment Commission, chaired by Ratan Tata, was "actively engaged in" was the Korean steel major Posco’s proposal to set up a mega steel project in Orissa entailing an FDI of $10 billion. Three projects The two other big-ticket FDI proposals being processed by the Commission, which submitted its interim report to the Government, are a mining project by Lafarge, a global cement major, and a port project by Mitsubishi of Japan.
"They (Investment Commission) are focusing on three projects, Posco in Orissa, Lafarge in Himachal Pradesh and Mitsubishi in West Bengal," he said. As for the NHDP, bids for the third phase are to be invited next month. "Bids for NHDP-III will be invited in June," he said. While the first phase (NHDP-I) comprised the `Golden Quadrilateral’ connecting the four metros and the second phase (NHDP-II) was to build the North-South and East-West (NSEW) corridors, the third phase envisaged four-laning of 10,000km and was slated for completion by March 2010. Another Rs. 15,000 crores would be necessary for constructing 1,000km of expressways to be completed by March 2012. On coal sector reforms, Mr. Chidambaram said that it would include easier norms for coal mining also.
"One of the next few major reforms would be in the coal sector," he said. As the fuel was a critical requirement for sectors such as power, steel and cement, there was a need for expediting the preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs) along with environmental and forest clearances for new coal projects.