Railway projects in Andhra Pradesh derail as state govt fails to meet its share of cost

The state government has to spend at least Rs 4,000 crore from its coffers to put the railway projects back on track
Last Updated : 28 September 2021, 08:53 IST
Last Updated : 28 September 2021, 08:53 IST

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The cash-strapped Andhra Pradesh government has expressed unwillingness to honour the cost-sharing agreement with the Indian Railways, leading to the derailment of several major rail projects in the state.

The state government has categorically told the railway authorities that it would bear only the land acquisition costs, pushing the long-delayed projects into jeopardy.

The state government has to spend at least Rs 4,000 crore from its coffers to put the railway projects back on track, but given its precarious financial position, that looks an improbable task.

The issue came up for discussion during a high-level meeting between state Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das and South Central Railway General Manager Gajanan Mallya here last week, top official sources revealed. The Railways, on its part, maintained that “it is not possible” to take up all these cost-sharing projects solely with its funds owing to “the large shelf of projects”. “The discussions ended in a stalemate as either side is not ready to budge. As such, there appears little scope for any progress on these crucial projects,” a top official, who was part of the meeting, told PTI.

Prime among the stalled projects are a new 309-km railway line between Nadikudi and Srikalahasthi (sanctioned in 2011-12), 255.4-km Kadapa-Bengaluru, 57.21-km Kotipalli-Narsapur (sanctioned in 2001) and 93.17-km Rayadurg-Tumkur new line. The cost of Nadikudi-Srikalahasthi line has now shot up to Rs 5,000 crore but the state so far deposited just Rs 6 crore, besides spending Rs 166 crore on land acquisition on this 50:50 cost-sharing project. The Railways, on the other hand, so far spent Rs 1,144 crore on this project and completed a 45.55-km stretch of track between New Piduguralla and Savalyapuram in Guntur district.

The Kadapa-Bengaluru project has been stalled, after completion of 21.8-km track-laying, as the state government proposed a change in alignment to take the line through the Chief Minister’s hometown Pulivendula. “Realignment of the line makes it a new project for which fresh approvals are required from the Railway Board. But still the state government is not willing to bear 50 per cent of the project cost, pushing it into a limbo,” a top railway official said.

Worse is the case of the Kotipalli-Narsapur new railway line that remains off-track, two decades after the then Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee laid the foundation-stone. While the state was required to share 25 per cent of the project cost (Rs 722 crore), it had so far deposited only Rs 2.69 crore. It still has to acquire 562 acres of land for the project at an estimated cost of Rs 152 crore.

The Rayadurg-Tumkur project made no progress since nothing of the required 68.61 acres of land has been acquired till date. Interestingly, the state deposited Rs 260.35 crore under its share so far but is yet to spend Rs 8 crore on land acquisition, government records showed. For land acquisition alone, the AP government will have to shell out a sum of Rs 1,361 crore for road-over-bridges, road-under-bridges, new (single) rail line works and doubling projects.

As many as 11 new ROBs at important places like Kakinada, Kurnool, Anantapuramu, Guntur, Kavali, Yelamanchili and Kuppam, which were nearing completion, were now stalled as the state government could not release Rs 130.61 crore for finishing balance works like approach roads. Another three ROBs were stuck after 25 per cent of works were done because the state did not release Rs 113.90 crore. Two more are in tender stage while work on another ROB in Visakhapatnam (Lakshmidevipet) has been “kept in abeyance” as the state Finance Department raised some objections, the sources said.

These three works would cost Rs 248.03 crore (state share).

The issue has been taken up with Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy for release of funds but to no avail. The Railways has agreed to build another 21 ROBs and RUBs with its own funds and asked the state to bear Rs 150 crore towards land acquisition. “The state is yet to give its willingness for this,” the sources added. “The AP government is not depositing its share (of money) in the cost-sharing projects. As such, execution of these projects is severely affected,” the Railway official said.

On his part, the state Chief Secretary directed Joint Collectors of different districts to expedite the land acquisition process to enable faster progress in the pending rail projects.

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Published 28 September 2021, 08:40 IST

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