In order to meet the new developmental needs of the country, the Indian Railways along with the Union ministries of Power and Coal has identified 30 coal connectivity projects for swift transportation.
The environmental clearances, which often take too much time in some cases, have hindered the work in the 30 projects, the inter-ministerial committee, formed on the instruction of the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO), had found at its first review meeting held recently.
The coal mining target has been set at over 800 million tonnes at the end of 12th Five Year Plan, but the current extraction is around 540 million tonnes.
The PMO has asked the Railways to complete most of these projects at the earliest so that the target could be met in the next few years.
Last week, the Union Cabinet had given its nod to set up joint ventures in three of the 30 projects including the new 121-km-long broad gauge line between Gevra Road and Pendra Road and 63-km-long Raigarh Mand collieries and Bhupdeopur falling in Chattisgarh, and the doubling of the 247-km-long Palanpur-Samakhiali in Gujarat.
All the projects are scheduled to be completed in the 12th Five Year Plan and beyond.
The progress report of the 30 projects, which was accessed by the Express, indicates delays at various stages of approval and execution. The Piparwar-Mclouskiganj link under the East Central Railways is slated to be completed by September 2013 in two phases. This is expected to increase coal despatch by 25 million tonnes.
The Tori-Shivpur line will cater to the major coal block areas and initially give an incremental traffic of 60 million tonnes out of the total potential of 180 million tonnes. Recently, the Railway Board Chairman wrote to the Environment Ministry seeking relaxation on the night movement of trains from midnight to 5 am, that was stopped by the green ministry.
Another branch from this route - Shivpur-Kathautia will cater to 180 million tonnes of coal, but the matter has been pending for gram sabha clearance at the district forest officer level.
The three sections of rail links that will primarily cater to Barh power station in Bihar are Shivpur-Chatti and Hazaribagh-Banadag (target date of completion (TDC) - March 2013), Koderma-Hazaribagh-Barakana-Ranchi new line (TDC -June, 13) and 64-km new link between Koderma-Tillaiya 64, the work of which has temporarily stopped due to land acquisition and stage-II clearance.
Land acquisition in the East Coast Railways, which has projects like the Angul-Talcher blub line, has become problematic as the villagers laid down a condition that the government should offer them jobs in return for the land it acquires. However, the railways has rejected the demand.