De­lay in land ac­qui­si­tion and fund crunch stall rail­way projects in State

Sunday Express - - SUNDAY STORY - VENKATE­SAN PARTHASARATHY @ Chen­nai

SEV­ERAL new rail­way lines in the State, some of them sanc­tioned a decade ago, have not be­come a re­al­ity. Fac­ing is­sues in land ac­qui­si­tion, fund al­lo­ca­tion and other hin­drances, work has been frozen in some cases, while it has not started in oth­ers.

A clas­sic ex­am­ple is the new line be­tween Tin­di­vanam and Na­gari in Andhra Pradesh (179.2 km). Al­though sanc­tion was given to the project some­time in 2006, there has been very poor progress. An­other ex­am­ple which comes to fo­cus is the 36 km long route from Mo­rap­pur to Dharma­puri, sanc­tioned at a cost of `134 crore. But, rail­way sources say they have not been pro­vided with ad­e­quate fi­nances.

An­other long pend­ing line be­tween Madu­rai and Thoothukudi via Arup­pukot­tai, was al­lo­cated `100 crore, but of­fi­cials con­cede they have not spent even a quar­ter of that fund.

At least half a dozen new lines listed as on­go­ing works by South­ern Rail­ways for the cur­rent year, share a sim­i­lar fate (re­fer to the box). A se­nior rail­way of­fi­cial told Ex­press that avail­abil­ity of land is the main prob­lem. "We are not able to get the re­quired lands even af­ter wait­ing for 5-6 years," he said. The au­thor­i­ties also ac­knowl­edge that there is cost es­ca­la­tion, of 10-15%, every year due to de­lays.

It has been learnt that the rail­way min­istry is re­luc­tant to give sanc­tion for sur­vey­ing new rail- way lines in the State. “In the last three years, there has been no new sanc­tion. The min­istry wants the ex­ist­ing projects to be fin­ished first,” a se­nior of­fi­cial said. The board has given sanc­tion for only one sur­vey, on the Dindigul-Sabari­mala route, for which work will soon start.

All eyes on State govt

Rail­way au­thor­i­ties are pin­ning their hopes on reach­ing an agree­ment with the State gov­ern­ment. So far, the gov­ern­ments of Chat­tis­garh, Gu­jarat, Haryana, Ker­ala, Odisha and few oth­ers have signed the Joint Ven­ture (JV) agree­ment to cre­ate spe­cific Spe­cial Project Ve­hi­cles (SPVs). The SPV, with eq­uity par­tic­i­pa­tion of Min­istry of Rail­ways lim­ited to max­i­mum 50%, would un­der­take project de­vel­op­ment and re­source mo­bi­liza­tion, be­sides mon­i­tor­ing.

Rail­way sources told Ex­press that the Tamil Nadu gov­ern­ment had raised con­cerns over the agree­ment, es­pe­cially the fund­ing pat­tern. “In­stead of shar­ing the cost on 50:50 ba­sis, the gov­ern­ment wanted to in­clude land as part of their fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment. We have clar­i­fied some of their con­cerns and are wait­ing for a re­sponse,” the of­fi­cial said.

P JAWA­HAR

New lines could ease con­ges­tion on ex­ist­ing routes |

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