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Budget Blues SCR at crossroads

Budget Blues SCR at crossroads
Highlights

Railway lines are saturated, single lines need to be doubled and gauge conversion has become essential but with meagre budget being dished out year after year to the Secunderabad headquartered South Central Railway (SCR), the zone is neither moving forward nor is able to complete pending projects. Out of the 3,083 km new lines sanctioned only 349 km has been completed.

Ahead of the Union Railway Budget on Thursday, the focus is on South Central Railway which needs Rs 20,000 crore to complete pending projects and take up newly sanctioned lines and clear pending contractor bills

Railway lines are saturated, single lines need to be doubled and gauge conversion has become essential but with meagre budget being dished out year after year to the Secunderabad headquartered South Central Railway (SCR), the zone is neither moving forward nor is able to complete pending projects. Out of the 3,083 km new lines sanctioned only 349 km has been completed.

The SCR requires Rs 14,583 crore to complete the new lines where as the total budget last year was just Rs 10,420 crore. According to a rough estimate, the SCR requires a minimum of Rs 4,500 crore to put in place passenger amenities, track renewals, repairs and pending contractor bills. In Hyderabad division, SCR covers mainly Telangana region. Out of 652 km, only 28 km are double lined and electrified.

About 18 km and another 28 km doubling and 38 km electrification works are in progress under the MMTS phase-II project. Remaining 596 km are single line and there is only one terminal station (Kacheguda) from where many trains originate. The MMTS Phase II Rs 850 crore project which could transport 3 lakh passengers per day was allotted only Rs 20 crore in the previous budget.

There are 19 pending projects and 34 surveys sanctioned and this would require another Rs 9,000 crore investment. A senior railway official said, “For the Kazipet-Balharshah third line (250 km) just Rs 45 crore was sanctioned in last year’s budget.” The total cost of the project is Rs 1,300 crore and only 120 crore has been spent till date. Likewise, there are several projects that are pending and moving at a snail’s pace for want of funds.

Severe staff crunch

Employees in almost all sections have been working overtime and are a stressed lot. There are 15,000 vacancies of which 10,000 are needed in the safety category. The most affected are the drivers who at times work for 12-14 hours. There is a shortage of 2,000 drivers and 800 station masters. A retired railway board member on the condition of anonymity said that there is only one way to get railways on the track and that is to modernise railways and allot sufficient funds to complete projects.

Raghava Naidu, a resident of Kavadiguda said, “If India is to compete with China and the rest of the world, it is but inevitable to modernise Indian Railways. If projects could be done on a Private Public Partnership (PPP) mode so be it. Hope that the railway budget opens up the railways.”

3,083 km new lines sanctione Rs 14,583 crore needed 13 projects of 1,110 km in Telangana Only 144 km completed, Rs 5049 crore needed to complete the projects Ramagundam-Munguru line (200 km)Rs 1,112 crore needed

Major proposals

  • Moula-Ali, Nagullapalli and Timmapur
  • Wagon factory at Kazipet
  • Kazipet-Balharshah 3rd line
  • Kadapa-Bangarpet line
  • Doubling between
  • Secunderabad-Mahbubnagar,
  • Bibinagar-Nadikudi
  • Rs 5,000 crore is required for removal of level crossing gates and construction of RoBs.
  • Rs 4,500 crore required to pay contractor bills, improve passenger amenities and track renewals
  • Rs 9,000 crore needed to complete pending projects including Road Under Bridge (RuBs) and Road Over Bridge (RoBs)

Moving at snail’s pace Peddapalli, Karimnagar & Nizambad new lines 83 km out of 178 km completed Yerraguntla & Nandyal 50 km out of 126 km completed Kotapalli-Narsapur 57 km completed

MMTS Phase II

  • Total cost of project: Rs 850 cr
  • Budget sanctioned last year: Rs 20 cr

Staff shortage

  • 10,000 staff needed in safety category
  • 2,000 drivers needed
  • 800 station masters

By:T P Venu

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