Major railway projects in the State have almost come to a standstill as the Southern Railway has utilised most of the allocations that were made for the current financial year. The Railway Board has asked the Southern Railway to go slow with the works as additional funds are not going to be made available.
Some of the ongoing projects which were expected to be completed before the end of the current financial year, which is about four and a half months away, may get delayed, according to a senior railway official here. For gauge conversion, the Ministry allotted Rs.238 crore for the year, but the zone has spent Rs.350 crore.
The administration wrote to the Chairman and Member (Engineering) of the Board asking for additional funds, but there has been no response.
For line-doubling Rs.185 crore has been spent, while the allotment was Rs.215 crore. For the Villupuram-Katpadi gauge conversion, Rs.82 crore has been spent against the allotted Rs.50 crore. For the Manamadurai-Virudhunagar gauge conversion Rs.57 crore has been spent against the allotment of Rs.21 crore, and for Dindigul-Pollachi- Palakkad/Coimbatore Rs.31 crore against Rs.98 crore.
The zone was able to spend over and above the allotment by diverting funds allotted for other projects.
The official said the zone had planned to open the 51-km stretch between Salem and Namakkal in the Salem-Karur project (81 km) before the end of next year. Already Rs.85 crore has been spent as against the project cost of Rs.385 crore.
“We need Rs.150 crore each in the next two years to complete the new line. But the project received just Rs.35 crore this year. The zone has already completed the earthwork and rails and sleepers have to be laid in the Salem-Namakkal stretch. But there is no money to place orders for rails and sleepers. As it could expect money only after the next budget, the project will get delayed,” a railway official said.
In the case of the Chengalpattu-Villupuram doubling project, the executing contractors required a quarry licence to undertake earthwork. But the District Collectors were not handing out quarry licences. This was brought to the notice of the State government, which has promised to do the needful.
The case of road overbridges and many minor projects was worse. Owing to lack of sufficient funds, work had been stopped.