After a wait of five years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's pet project of constructing dedicated freight corridors (DFC) is now on the verge of take-off. Final work orders for construction of around 1,000 route km worth around Rs. 4,000 crores will be awarded this year, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation India Ltd's managing director RK Gupta told Srinand Jha of Hindustan Times. Excerpts:
Are you confident of meeting the timelines on project implementation?
Surely. For some sections, we have advanced the targets for commissioning. The 66-km-long Durgawati-Karwandia section on the eastern corridor will be inaugurated in December 2013, while the 52-km section of Sonnagar-Mughalsarai will be commissioned in December 2015. The balance work on both the eastern and western corridors will be completed by March 2017.
When are the final work orders expected to be issued?
A Rs. 157 crore contract has already been issued to a consortium led by the Ferrovia Trans Rail Solutions for the track construction on the Durgawati-Karwandia section and construction work is in progress. Financial bids for the 650-km-long Rewari to Palampur section of the western corridor have already been invited and bids are scheduled to be opened on October 30. As for the 350-km-long Khurja-Kanpur section on the eastern corridor, the technical bidding process has been completed and sent for evaluation to the World Bank — the funding agency. By the end of the year, we will award civil contracts for 1,000 route km.
Which are the companies that have been short-listed?
For the western corridor, two companies have qualified: The JV of Mitsui (Japan)-Ircon and the consortium of Leighton (Australia)-Sotitz (Japan) and L&T (India). In the eastern corridor, there is a list of 13 qualifying companies.
Apparently, implementation delays have led to project cost-escalation.
We have, in fact, done some cost-cutting to keep the costs down. Project cost is now pegged at Rs. 88,000 crore — which includes an expense of about R4,000 crore for building road over-bridges and road-under-bridges.
How will the cost-cutting impact the overall project implementation?
We have decided to work on a traffic projection of 10 years, to begin with. The overall plan has not been tinkered with, but some works are being left for the second phase. For example, of four loop lines are recommended in the blueprint, the DFCC will construct only two lines in the first phase.
What are the bottlenecks in project implementation?
I would say that there is nothing serious. The corporation has already acquired almost 80% of the land required. Certain environmental clearances are pending for the DFCC line passing through three wildlife sanctuaries — which includes the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.