Cost of planning failure in mega projects

Recently the Union Cabinet, Govt. of India has approved a revised cost estimate  (see Table-1 below) for all eight new IITs which were setup in the academic years 2008-2009. Originally projected/planned cost of setting up these 8 institutes of national importance was Rs. 6080 Cr. It was expected that these institutes would be fully functional from their respective independent campuses within about five years from starting. None of these newly setup eight IITs has been able to meet the originally planned cost and timelines for setting up needed infrastructure and start operating from the new campuses. Almost eight years into their inception, there are still some who are yet to move to their new campuses. Meanwhile, the cost of completing the work has risen by Rs. 7910 Cr to Rs. 13990 Cr as you can see from MHRD's press release! One could have done a lot of public good with this amount of taxpayer's money.

Table-1 (Revised estimated cost of IITs setup in 2008-09) 
Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=146621
Name of the IIT
Original sanction
Approved cost
Bhubaneswar
760
1880
Gandhinagar
760
1716
Hyderabad
760
2075
Indore
760
1902
Jodhpur
760
1605
Mandi
760
1466
Patna
760
1678
Ropar
760
1668
Total
6080
13990

In my view one of the major reasons for such wastage of taxpayer money has been that individuals who lacked the required competency and experience have been appointed at various levels in these projects. It includes individuals from all sides: institute's own administration, external project management, engineering and implementation work force connected with the project.

It is not uncommon to see comparisons, in media and elsewhere, of the new IITs with their older cousins in different aspects. It will be interesting to see a credible debate/comparison/report which compares these institutions on one aspect which is quite pertinent at this juncture: a comparison of old and new in terms of cost and time overruns that were incurred in creating those IITs five decades ago. I believe that in context of institute building the current and old are vastly different. Fifty years ago it seems both political leadership and institutes' administrators were genuinely passionate about creating these institutes in their mission to meet a young nation's need. Today, barring perhaps few exceptions, the decision/policy makers are driven by different kind of motivations when they take up the task of creating these "institutes of national importance". What could be a more glaring proof of this than the colossal planning failure in projects of setting up these 8 new IITs where the cost of building those 8 IITs has more than doubled without delivering even a single new IIT which is fully functional as per plan!

My hope is that the policy makers in the government would learn from these failures and hopefully won't repeat the same mistakes in another batch of six new IITs that they have announced recently.


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