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'Infrastructure spend must be disclosed'

By Vinayak Chatterjee
March 16, 2009 11:20 IST
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An RTI petition seeks regular data on Gross Capital Formation in infrastructure.

This 'Right To Information' petition was filed on March 5, 2009 by the author


The Central Public Information


  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation [Application No. 52 dated 05/03/09]

  • Planning Commission [No. RTI (10) 367/2009 dated 05/03/09]

  • Ministry of Finance [Recd -- 05/03/09]

    Subject: Request for Information under RTI Act 2005;

    Re: Data on Gross Capital Formation in Infrastructure

    Dear Sirs,

    I am a bona fide citizen of India. I require the following information u/s 6(1) of the RTI Act 2005.

    For the benefit of proper understanding and appreciation of the information required, I am providing a brief preamble and a background before seeking information.


    In the preface to India's 11th Five Year Plan document, the following perspective for investments in India's infrastructure is set out:

    "Poor quality of infrastructure seriously limits India's growth potential in the medium term and the Eleventh Plan outlines a comprehensive strategy for development of both rural and urban infrastructure, defined to include electric power, roads, railways, ports, airports, telecommunications, irrigation, drinking water, sanitation, storage, and warehousing. The total investment in these areas was around 5 per cent of GDP in 2006--07 and the Plan aims at increasing this to about 9 per cent of GDP by the terminal annum 2011--12".

    As recently as in the interim Budget speech to Parliament on February 16, 2009, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, [quote from Para 48(e) of speech] "… bridge the infrastructure gap by increasing the investment in infrastructure to more than 9 per cent of GDP by 2014".

    On numerous occasions, while addressing people in India and abroad, the prime minister, the vice-chairman of the Planning Commission and the finance minister, along with many other senior ministers have publicly stated that India requires around $500-billion worth of investments in infrastructure in the 11th Plan period.

    Background: While this focus on investment in infrastructure is indeed laudable, nowhere in the public domain is there any dissemination of information on what are actually the investments in the infrastructure domain.

    The criticality of the infrastructure sector in stimulating demand, creating employment, providing better public services and utilities and being a central theme of the economy is nowhere in doubt. But, strangely, no consolidated figures on infrastructure investments made on ground are ever disseminated by any official arm of the Government of India. There is no way to evaluate achievement vis-à-vis the 11th Plan perspective.

    This is, indeed, most peculiar when seen against the plethora of economic statistics routinely disseminated by the government as a measure of the health of the economy -- or as a measure of the impact of strategies as well as a basis for policy prescriptions. These include well-known statistics on GDP, industry-agriculture-services output, inflation, forex reserves, FDI, fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, money supply, tax collections, et al.

    It is, therefore, all the more surprising that with this regular stream of economic data flowing in at monthly intervals, nowhere is there any figure on Gross Capital Formation in Infrastructure (GCFI). All government references to GCFI are to plan and determine the potential and possibilities.

    There appears to be no attempt to collect, disseminate and discuss data related to actual investments on the ground. How then is the performance in creation of new infrastructure to be measured; or how are the results of schemes and policies to be evaluated? More importantly, should the people of India not know what is going on actually vis-à-vis infrastructure investments at a broad macro-economic level, rather than on a piece-meal, sectoral and often, anecdotal data level?

    These questions and the urgent need to provide infrastructure investment data on a regular and sustained basis have often been posed to the prime minister, finance minister, and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission as well as senior bureaucrats associated with economic ministries. In one voice, they have all agreed that GCFI data is of crucial importance and needs to be collected regularly and shared widely.

    However, across the last five years, no concrete action appears to have been taken by the government to address the need.

    Information sought: Therefore, this RTI petition seeks the information mentioned below from:

  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation

  • The Planning Commission

  • Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance

    The information required is:

  • Details regarding the plan-period from which the data in respect to Gross Capital Formation in the Infrastructure sector is being collected and maintained.

  • Year-wise details of the targets set for Gross Capital Formation for Infrastructure in the public and private sector in the plan document for the 11th Plan period.

  • The figure for Gross Capital Formation in Infrastructure in the first two years of the 11th Plan period i.e. financial year 2007-08 and 2008-09. The gross figures as well as the figures separately for the public and private sector may be provided.

  • Please provide details of the existing process of collecting and compiling the statistical data at the national level for Gross Capital Formation in the Infrastructure sector, both in the public as well as in the private domain.

  • The details regarding the ministry, division and/or institution of the Government of India which has been mandated with the task of collecting, collating and disseminating the statistical data and information with respect to infrastructure investments both in the public and the private sector.

  • Please clarify whether the statistics for Gross Capital Formation in the Infrastructure sector are being disseminated to the public. If yes, the form and manner and the sources through which it is being disseminated.

  • In case no data regarding Gross Capital Formation in public and private sector infrastructure is currently being maintained, please provide the details of the current plans for initiating the process of collecting, collating and disseminating such statistical data; and the intervals at which these shall be disseminated to the public.

    I state that the information sought does not fall within the restrictions contained in Section 8 and 9 of the Act and to the best of my knowledge it pertains to your Office.

    This is to certify that I, Vinayak Chatterjee, am a citizen of India.

    The author is the chairman of Feedback Ventures. He is also the chairman of CII's National Council on Infrastructure. This RTI petition has been filed in an individual capacity.

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