In a first, Rail­ways to float global ten­der to buy rails as SAIL can’t keep up with de­mand

Resource Digest - - CONTENT -

For the first time, In­dian Rail­ways will float global ten­ders to buy rails, as Steel Au­thor­ity of In­dia (SAIL), its sole sup­plier, can’t meet the trans­porter’s in­creased de­mand. Rail­way min­is­ter Piyush Goyal, who took charge re­cently in the wake of a spate of rail ac­ci­dents, has iden­ti­fied track re­newal as a fo­cus area to pre­vent such in­ci­dents from tak­ing place. In a reply in the Ra­jya Sabha dur­ing the monsoon ses­sion of Par­lia­ment, min­is­ter of state of rail­ways Ra­jen­go­hain had said, “Rail re­quire­ment that is not met by SAIL is amenable to pro­cure­ment from (al­ter­na­tive) sources. For the year 2017-18, SAIL has com­mit­ted to sup­ply 11.45 lakh tonne rails. The bal­ance re­quire­ment of about 3.14 lakh tonne is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for pro­cure­ment (from sources other than SAIL).”

The rail­ways had ear­lier also con­sid­ered is­su­ing a global ten­der but the plan was put on the back burner given the gov­ern­ment pol­icy which stip­u­lated use of In­dian steel in in­fra­struc­ture projects. “The min­is­ter (Goyal) has made it clear that rail is es­sen­tial for main­te­nance, re­newal and also for new projects. So the re­quire­ment has mul­ti­plied. Rail pro­cure­ment will be given pri­or­ity. We will look at all op­tions — both in­dige­nous and over­seas,” said one rail­way of­fi­cial.

Though the life­span of rail­way tracks is 25-30 years, some tracks are iden­ti­fied for un­der­age re­place­ment as well as these are prone to cor­ro­sion due to weather fac­tors such as prox­im­ity to sea or heavy traf­fic. Till a cou­ple of years back, SAIL sup­plied 6-7 lakh tonnes of rail, which matched the re­quire­ment of the rail­ways. How­ever, the trans­porter’s re­quire­ment has since risen fast. “Last year, there was a short­fall in re­newal be­cause of un­avail­abil­ity of rail as SAIL did not have enough ca­pac­ity,” said an­other of­fi­cial, adding there was a short­fall of 200 km (rails) for new tracks.

SAIL is in the process of set­ting up a new plant for rail man­u­fac­tur­ing but it will take time to materialise. In the mean­while “if there will be a gap for a year or two, we will look for other sources”, said the first of­fi­cial quoted above.

SAIL IS IN THE PROCESS OF SET­TING UP A NEW PLANT FOR RAIL MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING BUT IT WILL TAKE TIME TO MATERIALISE

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