A set of figures released by the ministry of railways on August 5 tells a story of just how much money, and work, is required to get the railways back on track as far as congestion of its heavily-patronised lines are concerned.
The railways is currently working on 253 projects that will see lines being doubled (a second line added), tripled (a third line added) and quadrupled (fourth line added) across 16 of its zones covering the entire length and breadth of the country. The total length of these projects is 21,337.33km nationwide.
The data on money allotted to these 253 projects show that for the current year the money sanctioned stands at 11.75 per cent of the total cost. The money spent so far, as per the railway figures, stands at 12.44 per cent. The 253 projects have a total cost of 1,87,089.4 crore while the money spent on them as of March 31 is Rs23,282.42 crore, or about 12.44 per cent. The money sanctioned for the current financial year stands at Rs21,975.79 crore, or about 11.75 per cent of the total cost.
“The fact is these are lines that are being laid on very heavily congested routes and are imperative for the railways to keep its neck out of water over the next couple of decades. But the percentage of allotment shows that these projects can drag on for more than decade negating all the benefits that would have risen if the projects were completed in time,” said a former top-ranking railway official.
Central Railway, which has 16 projects under its belt totaling 1,902.75 km has been allotted Rs1,398.83 crore. This, however, is just 8.71 per cent of the total cost of these 16 projects which is pegged at current prices at Rs16,052.85 crore. Similarly, Western Railway, which has 10 projects totaling 1073.83 km, has been allotted Rs1,946.04 crore. This is a relatively healthy 24 per cent of the total cost, point out officials.
In his budget speech on February, 2015, railway minister Suresh Prabhu had spoken about how he intended over the next five years (2020) to ‘increase track length by 20 per cent from 1,14,00km to 1,38,000km and grow the annual freight carrying capacity from 1 billion tonnes to 1.5 billion tonnes’. As the numbers show, there is still a long way to go, said city-based officials.
* Total projects- 253
* Total length- 21,337.33 km
* Total cost- Rs187,089.4 crore
* Exp till 31/3/16- Rs23,282.42 crore
* Percentage of total cost- 12.44 per cent
* Money sanctioned for 2016-17- Rs21,975.79 crore
* Percentage of total cost- 11.75 per cent