States expedite work on freight corridor
Following union railway minister Piyush Goyal’s letter to the chief ministers of nine states seeking to remove bottlenecks which have hampered work on the Rs 81,000 crore dedicated freight corridor project, several states have expedited land acquisition clearances and deployed police in areas where issues of law and order were holding up work.
According to officials aware of the development land acquisition clearances have been provided in the past week by states including Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat.
Following concerns raised by the Prime Minister’s Office over delays in the completion of the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), one of the largest rail infrastructure projects, Railways cited “poor progress of work” by contractors and raised concerns over law and order in Uttar Pradesh and delays in construction by Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab governments, Hindustan Times reported on August 26.
Railways identified delays in both the Eastern and Western dedicated freight corridors and revised the deadline for completion to June 2022 from its earlier target of December 2021.
“In Bihar’s Rohtas district, a detailed review was done by the DM (District Magistrate), and three teams have been formed to expedite payment and physical possession. Deployment of police at two road over bridge (ROBs) has been approved. Police force have also been deployed in Aurangabad,” one of the officials said.
On August 26, Goyal wrote to the chief ministers of nine states including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, highlighting how the dedicated freight corridor has been facing “long-pending issues” that remain “unresolved”. Goyal flagged issues such as land acquisition, pending arbitrations, demands from local residents, and the slow pace of work by state authorities.
The Centre has also agreed to the Punjab government’s demand for borrowing money from Railways’ project implementing arm the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) for construction of ROBs.
DFCCIL, in an internal report reviewed by HT, cited slow progress of ROB approaches by Uttar Pradesh (total 46 ROBs out of which only 3 have been completed). It has also pointed to law and order issues in Meerut, Muzzafarnagar and Saharanpur District as an area of concern for the delay in the Eastern corridor. And it highlighted slow progress in construction of ROBs in Haryana and Punjab.
In the Western Corridor, DFCCIL mentioned slow progress by the Gujarat government citing “slow acquisition of land for approaches”.
In his letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Goyal highlighted a slew of problems including pending road over bridges, obstruction to physical possession of land in areas such as Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Saharanpur among others due to agitation, arbitration, demand for compensation and jobs by villagers, and undue demand of lease rent by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
In a letter to Bihar CM Nirish Kumar, the minister raised concerns over land acquisition in certain stretches due to long delays in the disbursal of awards.
“Constant weekly monitoring and meetings with all stake holders lead to acquisition of patches and sections of land which were long delayed . Railway minister Piyush Goyal held a review meeting with Chief Secretaries of State Governments to expedite the progress and resolve critical issues of Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). ,” the railway ministry said on Monday.
“Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Railway Board Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav also wrote letters to Chief Secretaries of State Governments and General Managers of Zonal Railways to expedite the progress and resolve critical issues. Shri Yadav also held a meeting with Dedicated Freight Corridor contractors to resolve their problems and issues,” the ministry added.
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