In yet another jolt to the State, the Railway Ministry has slashed the budgetary grant to East Coast Railway (ECoR) triggering apprehensions that some of the much-awaited projects could face further delay.
In the September revision, the ministry has curtailed about ` 35 cr from the annual budget grant to ECoR. This is the second cut in three months. After the Rail Budget, as reported earlier in this paper, the ministry had made a ` 211 cr cut in the 2012-13 grant drawing sharp reactions from the Odisha Government.
The revision has seen ` 6 cr being slashed from the new projects head, ` 23 cr from maintenance and ` 1 cr from passenger amenities. For the new lines construction, the ministry had allocated ` 83 cr which remained unchanged in July revision. But in the latest revision, it was cut to ` 77 cr. Similarly, track renewal head was cut from ` 177 cr to ` 164 cr. What’s appalling, this head had seen a cut of ` 24 cr in July revision too.
Grant to the bridge works head has also been reduced from ` 16.48 cr to ` 14.64 cr. Signaling and telecom segment has also witnessed a ` 6 cr slash from ` 56 cr to ` 50 cr. That ECoR has a very low operating ratio of 45.6 and gives an earning of over ` 8850 cr to the ministry, the regular slash has come as a surprise to the top brass here. “It is the ministry’s decision. We’ have nothing to do with it,” said a senior official.
The cuts have had an impact on some of the much-hyped and delayed projects. The Khurda Road-Balangir New Line has witnessed a series of cuts. During 2010-11, the ministry slashed the grant from ` 120 cr to ` 60 cr and next year, it dropped to `45.45 cr. During 2012-13, the grant has further fallen to ` 38 cr.
This line had seen an expenditure ` 59.87 cr last fiscal which was more than sanctioned budget of ` 45.45 cr. Instead of allocating more funds this year to expedite the project, the cut will slow down its progress. Similarly, in the July revision, the Delang-Puri line, which is necessary for the Nabakalebara festival in 2015, saw a slash of ` 2 cr. Interestingly, the ministry, while slashing budgetary grant to ECoR projects, does not effect any cuts on projects executed by Rail Vikash Nigam Ltd.