Monday, January 11, 2016

‘Further cost escalation may delay Kalaburagi-Bidar line’

Source: The Hindu -;

M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, has expressed concern over the proposal to escalate the cost of the broad gauge line between Kalaburagi and Bidar. At a vigilance committee meeting here on Thursday, he said that it would further delay the project.

Officials from South Central Railway said that a proposal had been submitted to the Railway Board to escalate the project cost from Rs. 844.15 crore to Rs. 1,542.42 crore.

They said that the escalation was mainly due to the increased compensation awarded by the courts for the land acquired for the project. Mr. Kharge said that the Railways would have to own the blame for the increased compensation as the advocates had failed to place the records properly before the court.

He suspected collusion between the advocates hired by the Railways and those who had challenged the earlier award of compensation that resulted in the case not being presented properly before the courts. Mr. Kharge said that the Railways should challenge the award by the local courts in higher courts. . “If remedial measures are not taken immediately, the land cost of the project may increase abnormally and reach up to Rs 1,000 crore.”

Mr. Kharge pointed out that the original cost of the Bidar-Kalaburagi rail line sanctioned in 2003 was Rs. 369.70 crore. It went up to to Rs. 844.15 crore in 2014. “It will be difficult for the State government to share the cost if such steep escalations are proposed.”

The Railway officials said that forest clearance had not been given for a portion of the land on which the line had to be laid. Of the 110.40-km long line, a 37.32-km line from Khanapur to Humnabad had been commissioned for passenger service in 2013, and engine rolling had been completed on a distance of 16.32 km from Humnabad to Hallikhed (K). Engine rolling had been completed from Gulbarga to Sultanpur (10 km), and Sultanpur-Margutti Tunner (38 km) too.

The work of drilling a 1,700 metre-long tunnel at Margutti was in progress. The bridge across the Bennethora had been completed and the project was expected to be completed by December.


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