Concerned about the incessant delays and cost escalations in its ambitious Dedicated Rail Freight Corridor project, the government has sought a list of all components of the project which have been delayed due to various orders given by judiciary as well as the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The urgency on part of the Centre has come as the commissioning target for the project, which is scheduled for June 2022 is less than a year away.
In a recently held review meeting of the much delayed project, which was chaired by the Prime Minister himself, governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat were asked to complete land acquisition process, relief and rehabilitation work as well as construction of road over bridges as soon as possible.
The project, which was envisioned by the erstwhile UPA regime 15 years back, kickstarted construction only in 2014. It entails separate corridors for movement of freight trains exclusively.
The freight corridor project basically consists of two alignments, one is the 1,875 km long eastern dedicated freight corridor which will connect Ludhiana in Punjab with Dankuni in West Bengal. The other alignment is the 1,506 km long western freight corridor, which will connect Dadri in Uttar Pradesh with Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.
The total cost of the project is Rs 95,238 crore and is being funded by the World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency known as JICA.
During the meeting, Mr Narendra Modi is learnt to have asked Maharashtra government to acquire and hand over around 0.27 hectares of private land by October 15, 2021 and even asked it prioritise the project and complete all the given work on time.
According to highly placed sources, Gujarat government was asked to complete one road over bridge by September 30, 2021 and 14 other bridges by December 2021 by the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), which is implementing the project, in a progress report to the Ministry of Railways, has said that its financial progress is 71 per cent till May 2021. All contracts for both the eastern and western corridors worth Rs 56,952 crore have been awarded while contractual progress till May 2021 is Rs 40,477 crore (71 per cent).
Only 311 major bridges out of the total 540 bridges, have only been constructed till May 2021, which means only 58 per cent of them have been completed.
Also, just 93 out of the total 302 road over bridges have been completed on both the stretches. Progress on construction of road under bridges though is slightly better as 1,105 out of the 1,582 of them have been constructed till May 2021.
Most significantly though, during the current fiscal only 131 km of tracks have been laid under the project.