In a cabinet meeting on Monday, Modi outlined the 10-point plan and pressed the rest of his cabinet colleagues for a 100-day agenda that their respective ministries will pursue.
Earlier in the day, he removed the discretion ministers have in appointing personal staff, including so-called officers on special duty (OSDs), who, in some instances in the past, have served as conduits for lobbyists or companies looking for a quick-fix solution, and said these appointments would now have to be routed through the appointments committee of the cabinet headed by the prime minister. Ministries have also been asked to be more proactive in the digital medium.
On cue, several ministers announced their intention to put up all information about proposals and clearances in the public domain, online.
New environment minister Prakash Javadekar said the ministry would allow online submission of applications for environmental clearances, making it easier for companies to seek approvals. “This will ensure that there are timelines, transparency in (the) application process, and real time monitoring of stage-wise clearance,” Javadekar said.
The ministry will do the same with respect to forest clearances next month, he added.
During the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the environment ministry was criticized for delaying approvals and failing to adhere to timelines.
An applicant or project proponent will now be able to monitor the stage-wise process of their application. The ministry will work with states to ensure that even state-level clearance processes are completed on time, said Javadekar, adding that his ministry would attempt to reduce the time taken to grant an environmental clearance to a maximum of 60 days.
Similarly, the new minister for road transport and shipping, Nitin Gadkari, said he would focus on transparent and rapid decision making and implement a time-bound approach for project completion in the transport ministry. “We will focus on e-governance, calling for bids online to bring in transparency. The officials will be accountable for meeting deadlines,” Gadkari told reporters.
Gadkari also said that he was not in favour of a roads regulator, an idea conceived by the UPA government to address challenges such as financial stress, construction risk and contract management issues.
In the cabinet meeting, Modi outlined the government’s agenda.
“The prime minister has said the focus should be on efficient governance, delivery and implementation of programmes. He has also instructed the ministers to give priority to the issues brought forth by the state governments as also Members of Parliament,” parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after the meeting.
The Bharatiya Janata Party won 282 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha in the April-May general election, riding on widespread resentment against the UPA for its failure to contain inflation and tackle corruption in public office. It is the dominant constituent of the National Democratic Alliance, which has 336 representatives in the Lok Sabha.