The industrial corridor is being held up due to delay in the Dedicated Freight Corridor

Is the progress of the ambitious Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) tardy because of the delay taking place in the implementation of the Delhi Mumbai Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), which the former is linked to?

And is Rajasthan, through which 39 per cent of the 1,483 km Multi Modal High Axle Freight Corridor is passes through, behind the Gujarat, the other important stakeholder in the project, which has 38 per cent of the rail line in its area?

These were some of the points which came up during a discussion which formed part of the Infra Conclave Rajasthan organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here during the weekend on the progress of the DMIC and the development of integrated townships along the route.

The progress of both the DFC and DMIC are closely watched in Rajasthan as they cover 60 per cent of the State's geographical area.

“There are serious constraints due to the delay in the Railway project. Now it is said that it will only materialize by 2016,” confessed Purushottam Agarwal, Commissioner, Bureau of Investment Promotion, Rajasthan. “On our part we are absolutely serious about keeping to the schedule. State Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma met three times in the past one year to discuss DMIC,” he pointed out.

Mr. Agarwal said a lot of things have already been lined up in the Kushakhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana investment region, , including a green airport which would prove a substitute for the Delhi airport, a new township to match Gurgaon and the survey of a 50 km road linking National Highway-8 with Bhiwadi-Tapukuda.

“The freight corridor was initially scheduled to be launched in 2013. The concept of DMIC is based on the freight corridor,” noted Shailesh Pathak, former civil servant and now president of SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited. “The delay is costing the country Rs.50 crore daily,” he said. He felt when compared to DFC, the DMIC had done a much better job in conceptualizing the whole gamut of future activities.

What is the Japanese viewpoint on the progress, or lack of it, of the two projects technically and financially supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency?

Masaki Ida, Chief Director General, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) does not seem unduly worried. “Out of the 1,236 operational bases involving 725 Japanese companies in India, 21 are in the Kushakheda-Bhiwadi-Neemrana area. Twelve companies have already started operations in Neemrana. In fact Neemrana is one of the most well-known Indian towns back in Japan,” he said.

When asked by The Hindu about the progress of DFC – on which an agreement was signed between the two Governments in December 2006 – getting affected by Japan's present preoccupation with the calamity relief back home, Mr. Ida was affirmative that the project would not suffer. “We have made our commitment and we have to stick to that,” he said. He attributed the tardy progress of the DFC to the delays in bidding.

“Proactive Gujarat”

And as for Gujarat doing better than Rajasthan in DMIC? CII Rajasthan functionaries Dileep Baid and Jamini Uberoi were of the view that Gujarat is ahead of Rajasthan in the preparatory stage. “Gujarat has been very proactive in this regard,” Mr.Baid noted. Mr. Agarwal, who conceded the State's sluggishness, attributed it to the difficulties in land acquisition. “Gujarat has an advantage in that the land involved is in a backward area and also 80 per cent of it belonged to the State. In the case of Rajasthan the land in question falls in the National Capital region,” he pointed out.

“With us the issues are different and the land cost is very high. For the 50 km road planned in Kushakheda-Bhiwadi region we have to shell out Rs.350-550 crores for land alone while the construction would require another Rs.500 crores,” Mr. Agarwal noted.