Railways to finish cost-sharing projects by 2014
Minister of State for Infrastructure Development Santosh Lad on Thursday said the Ministry of Railways has assured to complete majority of the 12 cost-sharing railway projects in the State by December 2014.
Addressing reporters after participating in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to review the cost-sharing railway projects, he said the Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has promised to complete up to 200 km of railway line work every year in the State. The current pace is 100 km per year, he added.
Of the 14 cost-sharing railway projects, only two have been completed so far – Gadag-Sholapur and Shimoga-Talaguppa. Majority of these projects were taken up over a decade ago.
The total length of 12 ongoing projects is 2,193 km and their total estimated cost is Rs 4,748 crore, including the State government's share of Rs 2,468.89 crores, he added.
The slow pace of implementation of the cost-sharing projects by the Railways has been the major cause of concern to the State government. For, the government is also forced to share the burden of cost escalation of these projects.
For instance, the cost of Ramanagar-Mysore track doubling project, which was estimated at Rs 269 crores in 2008 has now increased to Rs 874.57 crore.† Similarly, the cost of Kottur-Harihar new line project shot up from Rs 65.93 crore in 1996 to Rs 439 crore in 2013, as per the presentation made by the State Infrastructure Development Department (IDD) on the status of railway projects.
The IDD highlighted cost escalation as the major problem in its presentation.
“The fund requirement for already committed projects is around Rs 10,000 crore in additional to land acquisition cost. Hence, the Railways should encourage public-private partnership,” the IDD stated.
Lad said the government has released additional Rs 250 crore to the IDD as matching grants for the Railways' share for implementing the cost-sharing projects. The Railways had recently increased the allocation to the State by Rs 350 crore. Besides, the government has acquired and handed over about 2,500 acres of land to the Railways in the last three years. Steps are being taken to acquire land by invoking emergency clause, he added.
Kharge had urged the government to release its share of fund to the additional allocation by the Railways. He had cited land acquisition as the reason for delay in implementation of railway projects and asked the government to speed up the acquisition process.
American firm may shift armoury
On shifting Tipu’s armoury
Santosh Lad said the Railways officials are holding talks with an American firm to shift Tipu's armoury near Srirangapatna to enable completion of the much-delayed Bangalore-Mysore railway line doubling project. “The armoury weighs around 800 tonnes. There is no company in India which can shift such a huge thing. Hence, the Railways is planning to entrust the work to an American firm. The Railways has assured to complete the project by December 2014, he added.