Of 201 projects sanctioned for Southern Railway only 59 in progress

Land acquisition is a major problem in completing railway over bridges and under bridges and though the railway administration is ready to pay the market rate, land owners go to court demanding higher compensation delaying the projects, said Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniappa here on Friday.

He said of the 201 ROB/RUBs sanctioned for Southern Railway only 59 were in progress. The administration was planning to complete its portion of at least 30 bridges in the current year. Last year, Railways completed its portion in 25 bridges of which 14 have been commissioned.

Land acquisition, non-receipt of general agreement on drawing from State governments and delay in preparation of estimates were the main reasons for the delay in completing the projects, he told newsmen here.

Funds will not be a problem for ongoing projects in Southern Railway, he said. The Ministry had sanctioned Rs.1057 crore for gauge conversion, doubling and new lines for the current financial year.

Last year, as against Rs.922 crore sanctioned for the zone, Rs.1,240 crore was spent. So, additional funds would be made available to the zone, if required.

Freight corridors

On the separate corridors for freight traffic to ensure quick movement of goods, the Minister said work on the western and eastern freight corridors between Mumbai and New Delhi and from New Delhi to Kolkata was in progress.

The western corridor, costing Rs. 26,000 crore, was being executed with financial assistance from Japan. The eastern corridor would be executed at a cost of Rs. 24,000 crore with World Bank funding. The feasibility report for the southern corridor from Mumbai to Chennai via Bangaluru was being prepared by the Railway Board. Once finalised, further course of action would be taken.

Special forces were being mobilised with the States' assistance to tackle the Maoist problem in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh. The Ministry held a meeting with the respective State governments and a strategy was being worked out to protect railway properties and passengers.