Home Ministry says it has identified the reasons behind the delay in approving key projects
Industries often complain of delay in getting security clearance which sometime takes as long as six months to one year. Following an initiative by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, the Home Ministry has identified the reasons behind the delay in giving security clearance to industrial and infrastructure projects and is planning to rectify them.
“There are issues like getting inputs from state governments, feedbacks of intelligence agencies, back ground checks etc. which lead to delay in giving security clearance.
“Though there is no time frame fixed for the Home Ministry, we have decided to give security clearance within 12 weeks by sorting out these problems,” a Home Ministry official said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last year identified delays in security clearances to some port projects as ‘a major bottleneck’ for the infrastructure sector. Following this, the Shipping Ministry had in January issued guidelines setting a 12-week deadline for security agencies to clear bidders for port infrastructure projects.
A security clearance remains valid for three years, unless there is a change in shareholding pattern.
The Cabinet Secretary is closely monitoring the exercise to streamline the process of granting security clearance as delay in giving approval to various projects are also being seen as “policy paralysis” in the UPA government. Seth had already conveyed to the Home Ministry to clearly “say a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ instead of lingering for a long time” without giving any indication.
The Cabinet Secretary also held a meeting last month with Secretaries in the Ministries of Home, Defence, Power, Surface Transport, Shipping and informed them of the government’s intention to frame standardised guidelines for security clearances for all sectors and cited the Shipping Ministry guidelines which could act as a model.
The Shipping Ministry’s guidelines was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by the Prime Minister, to expedite port projects which said that the Ministry of Shipping would share the list of bidders with the Ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat for seeking security inputs.
The guidelines also said the Shipping Ministry will separately circulate a list of all Indian and foreign companies that normally bid for port projects to the security agencies.
The PMO, which is monitoring infrastructure projects, in a statement earlier had said one of the major bottlenecks in moving ahead with port projects was the issue of securing clearances from various Ministries such as Home, Defence and Environment. “In the past three months, almost all (port) projects have secured clearances as a result of close monitoring and follow-up by PMO.
“New processes are being put in place to obtain security clearances speedily in future,” the April 12, 2012 statement of the PMO said.