THE CONNECTORS

KONKAN RAIL­WAY | ES­TAB­LISHED IN 1990

India Today - - INSIDE - —Amar­nath K. Menon

KONKAN RAIL­WAY, IRCTC, MUMBAI-PUNE EX­PRESS­WAY, BEST, NHAI, GMR, CEAT, INDIGO, COCHIN SHIP­YARD LTD

START­ING POINT

This rail link was the brain­child of Praja So­cial­ist Party leader Nath Bapu Pai, who mooted it first in the 1960s. Former rail­way min­is­ters Ge­orge Fer­nan­des and Madhu Dan­da­vate then re­fined the con­cept, but it was only af­ter the South­ern Rail­way pre­sented a fi­nal lo­ca­tion sur­vey re­port in 1988 that the Konkan Rail­way was es­tab­lished as a sep­a­rate en­tity. E. Sreed­ha­ran, who was made its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, started the project from scratch as no sur­vey data was avail­able for the pro­posed stretch in Ma­ha­rash­tra—half the length of the line. Land ac­qui­si­tion in the ab­sence of ra­tio­nal com­pen­sa­tion laws for the fer­tile Konkan tracts and the slopes of the Sa­hay­dris added to the hur­dles.

THE UN­FOLD­ING

The Konkan rail­way line was con­structed in a record time of eight years. Bet­ter still, funds for this project were gath­ered to­gether with­out mak­ing any de­mands on the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s cof­fers. Konkan Rail­way is still in the growth and ex­pan­sion phase, with ef­forts on­go­ing since 2015 to­ward dou­bling the tracks and their elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. The

740-km-long link be­tween Mumbai and Man­galuru passes through Ma­ha­rash­tra, Goa and Kar­nataka, of­fer­ing spec­tac­u­lar views. It’s a con­stant chal­lenge, though, to keep the line op­er­a­ble through 91 tun­nels, 129 bridges and 4,000-plus mm of rain­fall.

NEXT ON THE TRACK

When the project be­gan, tax-free pub­lic bonds were is­sued to raise money for con­struc­tion. To­day, the fi­nance in­dus­try has taken in­ter­est, es­pe­cially in fund­ing upgra­da­tion work which be­gan in 2015 and is ex­pected to cost about Rs 11,000 crore. Fi­nan­cially sta­ble, Konkan Rail­way makes a net profit from its reg­u­lar op­er­a­tions. “Our oper­at­ing ra­tio is 80 per cent (spend­ing 80 paise to earn a ru­pee),” says chair­man and MD San­jay Gupta. “We also have the Jammu and Kash­mir rail­way project and two NTPC projects that en­ables us to raise rev­enues.”

ALONG THE RIVER The Konkan rail line through Chiplun, Ma­ha­rash­tra, pass­ing by the Vashishti river

ALAMY

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