Will invest Rs.1,100 crore in the first phase

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, on Thursday, finalised a deal for Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) to set up a forged wheel factory at Lalganj in Rae Bareli.

The project promises about 600 jobs while 2,000 others would benefit indirectly. The railways will lease 40 acres to the RINL for 30 years to set up the factory. The factory will produce one lakh forged wheels each year to cater to the demand of LHB coaches and high-speed locos.

Once set up in 42 months, it would curtail imports of forged wheels, besides enhancing the safety aspects of locos, coaches and wagons. The railways have assured an offtake of 1 lakh wheels from the RINL for 26 years.

In view of paucity of funds, Mr. Kharge has decided to welcome FDI for development of infrastructure, promising to look at investment models that the railways could adopt or adapt for the growth of the railways. Mr. Kharge, however, was non-committal on the issue of implementing the budget proposal to adjust fuel prices twice a year which was due for imposition on October 1. He said the issue was under the consideration of the railways, and did not see the impending announcement of elections to a few State assemblies as breaching the model code of conduct.

Acting chairman Railway Board Arunendra Kumar, replying to questions, acknowledged that the recent exercise of slapping 15 per cent season charges on freight commodities, earmarking seats and berths in passenger trains for tatkal bookings and increasing parcel rates would yield an additional revenue of Rs.1,200 crore to the railways.

Our Visakhapatnam correspondent writes:

RINL and Indian Railways have signed an agreement on Thursday for setting up a forged wheel plant at Lalganj, Rae Bareli, with an investment of Rs.1,100 crore in the first phase. The agreement was signed in New Delhi in the presence of Union Minister for Steel Beni Prasad Verma, Minister for Railways Mallikarjun Kharge and Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

RINL Chairman-cum-Managing Director A. P. Choudhary said the process of order placement was in advanced stage.

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