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FM meets bankers, corporate honchos over stalled projects

Amidst the ongoing gloom on the economic front, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday allayed fears of the industry over stalled projects and assured all steps to remove the bottlenecks.

'The agenda was to identify the projects that have been stalled. We've identified 215 projects which for one reason or another are stalled. We've identified another 126 projects which are new projects, to which banks have sanctioned loans but which have not taken off,' Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting.

Those in attendance included industrialist Anil Ambani, Prashant Ruia of Essar, Ajit Gulabchand of HCC and Madhu Kannan from Tata Sons. Chidambaram was accompanied by Banking and Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Takru.

Bankers present included SBI Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri and heads of Bank of India, Central Bank of India and Union Bank of India.

'We are sitting with the bankers and the industry to find out why a particular project has been stalled and I am noting that down to go back and try to remove that block,' he added.  The meet comes on the back of a government estimate that economic growth will fall to a decade’s low of 5 per cent in FY13.  Many analysts are blaming stalled projects and declining investments as among the major factors hurting growth.

'He (Chidambaram) went into a lot of nitty-gritty (over stalled projects). He was very concerned and overall a very clear mandate was that these projects need to be completed,' Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumarmangalam Birla told reporters. The Finance Minister went into details on each of those projects, not just at general level, Birla said, adding 'he asked each one of us to talk about the projects and apprise him about the issues'.

Birla also said that Chidambaram was keen that these projects took off. 'He personally took notes and I am sure he will take actions on whatever is required.' On the meeting with the FM, SBI’s Pratip Chaudhuri said: ‘We spoke about the reasons why projects are stalled. Among the reasons, the most important ones are coal linkages, land acquisition and environmental clearance.’

Bankers have also conveyed to the Minister that due to current dispensation regarding NPAs, there are difficulties in providing more finances, he added.

Other PSU bankers echoed similar sentiments. ‘It was only the FM and the industrialists. He wanted to understand details regarding the stalled projects so that he can take them up with the ministries concerned. ‘He said he will take it up with the other ministries and help accelerate the stalled projects,’ Central Bank of India CMD Vijayalaxmi Iyer said after the meeting.
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