Monday, November 24, 2014

14 Railway Projects in State on Chopping Block

24th November 2014

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: The Railway Ministry plans to shelve projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore in Karnataka as part of a larger move to freeze non-starter schemes across the country.
Altogther 160 such projects, including 47 in the four southern states worth nearly Rs 41,000 crore, will be affected. A majority of these were sanctioned when Lalu Yadav and Mamata Banerjee were railway ministers.

While Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka will lose 14 projects each, Kerala will lose five. The highest value of projects, worth Rs 19,500 crore, is in Tamil Nadu followed by Rs 10,000 crore in Karnataka and Rs 9,000 crore in Andhra Pradesh. Kerala’s projects are worth Rs 2,300 crore.Most of the projects were sanctioned between 2004 and 2012, and some are as old as 1992-1993. Physical progress in all these projects was zero and the rate of return negative. Besides new rail lines, they include electrification and doubling of existing lines.
For example, the 260-km Bengaluru-Satyamangalam rail line project connecting Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, worth Rs 13,951.7 crore, was sanctioned in 1996-97, but it has been a non-starter. The Kotipalli-Narsapur project sanctioned in 2010-11 was worth Rs 1,045.2 crore, but has met the same fate.
Seven projects were sanctioned between 1992 and 2000 and are yet to take off. The oldest is the 81.2-km Whitefield-Bangarpet-Kuppam rail line sanctioned in 1992-93, the present cost of which is Rs 225 crore.
According to a source in the Railways, land acquisition and delays in clearances by the Forest Department are the main reasons for several projects not being completed. Regarding the Bengaluru-Sathyamangalam project, the source said the Tamil Nadu government had not given the necessary clearances for surveys to be done in forest land.
“Ever since the new land acquisition Act was implemented, not one square inch of land has been given for railway projects,” the source claimed adding that projects like Tumakuru-Rayadurga, Tumakuru-Chitradurga-Davangere and Harihar-Shivamogga had been stalled over land acquisition issues.
Of the 47, nine projects each were sanctioned by Lalu Yadav and Mamata Banerjee. According to the Railways, they are not viable. In order to improve the fiscal health of Railways, the NDA government has decided to review all non-starter projects as money has to be allocated to each of them in the budget. A final call on these projects is yet to be taken by the government.

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