Every Railway Budget comes with a lot of expectations from people of different regions and this year, it will be the same. And the gap between sanction of projects, allocation of funds and actual release is yawning.
A whopping sum of Rs. 8,500 crore is needed to complete 13 much-needed lines and two projects that have already been sanctioned under the jurisdiction of South Central Railway (SCR) in Andhra Pradesh.
These are the 309-km, Nadikudi-Srikalahasti stretch sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,313 crore and the 42-km, Gudur-Durgarajapatnam line estimated at Rs. 284 crore.
Of the 11 remaining lines sanctioned, the older pertains to the 179-km Peddapalli-Karimnagar-Nizamabad project, estimated at Rs. 820 crore, way back in 1993-1994. Only Rs. 458 crore has been released in the past 18 years for this project.
It may be recalled that at a meeting here on February 15, attended by Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, Minister of State K.H. Muniyappa and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Members of Parliament strongly voiced their demand that 40 per cent of all railway projects in the State should go to serve the 10 districts across the Telangana region. They regretted that five lines sanctioned recently were earmarked for the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions.
Funds for new lines
Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy said the State government had sanctioned Rs. 550 crore for new lines being taken up on 50: 50 cost sharing basis. Such projects include doubling and trebling of two lines at an estimated cost of Rs. 139 crore, he said in his presentation.
It's not just new lines, but even those for which surveys have been conducted, that are in limbo now. Of 120 lines that were surveyed for technical feasibility, 32 have been found to be most needed, including six that were proposed to be taken up with 50:50 sharing between the Centre and State.
SCRMU rues neglect
Ch. Sankar Rao, general secretary of the South Central Railway Mazdoor Union and Assistant GS of All India Railwaymen's Federation, rues the neglect of much-needed projects by successive governments.
“Gone are the standards followed in the past when the consideration for sanction of projects used to be the ‘Rate of Return', apart from the people's need,” he said.