BENGALURU: Even though three months have passed since the work order was issued to Larsen & Toubro for the Rs 859.67 crore Baiyappanahalli-Chikkabanavar corridor of the Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project, only minor preliminary work has been done so far.
Sources pointed out three major reasons behind the lack of progress: Railways has not yet handed over 91 acres of property required for the work to the contractor, massive signalling and telecom cables crucial for train operations are yet to be shifted and nearly 2,400 trees en route need to be removed.
The 25.57-km stretch (known as corridor-2) is the only one of four corridors of the 148.17 km project, estimated to cost Rs 15,767 crore, for which the contract has been awarded so far. The Letter of Authorisation to start work was awarded on August 26 this year with a 27-month period for completion.
A reliable source said, “In the last three months, no major work has been undertaken. Just the soil testing work has been done at different places. For substantial civil works to happen, all the three reasons need to be sorted out first.”
Railways need to transfer the land first to the nodal agency for implementing the project, the Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE), which will in turn hand it over to L&T. “Files are just moving from department to department with the land yet to reach K-RIDE,” another source said. “A portion of private land too is required and that is being processed currently,” he said.
Huge underground cables which control train operations along this entire stretch need to be shifted to the vicinity. “Only 4 km out of 25 km of these cables have been shifted so far and they are yet to be activated too. This will be a delicate, tough task as they are crucial for normal train operations. “
In addition, 2,400 trees come in the way of the construction work. “In total, 2,300 trees need to be cut while 100 of them can be transplanted. The process of seeking permission from the Forest Department has begun,” said another source. The contracted line with 14 stations will have 8.027-km elevated portion and 17.5 km at grade line.
Top railway officials did not respond to this reporter’s queries as to why the land was not transferred yet. The Suburban Rail Project has a 2026 deadline but it is unlikely to kickstart until 2030, say sources familiar with the pace at which it is moving.