NEW DELHI: Pulling up the Railway Ministry for a long pending list of projects, some as old as 30 years, a parliamentary panel has asked it to review all of them on the basis of their economic viability and critical importance, and prepare an action plan to implement them in a definite time frame.
The Standing Committee on Railways chaired by Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi expressed disappointment that as on April 1, 2014, the ministry had a throw-forward of 362 projects -- 154 new lines, 42 gauge conversions and 166 doubling. The financial throw-forward stood at `182,224 crore.
“In the past 10 years, out of sanctioned 99 new line projects worth `60,000 crore, the ministry has been able to complete only one project. There are four projects, which are as old as 30 years and still not completed. It is a matter of grave concern, which does not reflect positively on the performance of the Indian railways,” the committee observed.
Directing the ministry to prepare an action plan to expedite completion of these projects, the committee said there has been a tendency for the past many years to keep unrealistic targets which resulted in a slow and tardy progress of the projects due to non-availability of sufficient resources, adversely affecting the performance of the railways.
The parliamentary panel observed that usefulness of any project would be lost if there were inordinate delays in its implementation.
The ministry officials, who deposed before the committee, said, “The slippage in deadline are primarily on accounts of delay in obtaining clearances in the process of land acquisition and handing over of land to the railway authorities for execution of work, law and order issues and lack of sustained flow of funds.”
The committee disagreed with the reasons furnished by the ministry and said the blueprint of project should take into account all issues relating to land acquisition, implementing agencies and the project should be formulated accordingly.
“Delays and bottlenecks point to poor and inadequate planning, resulting in huge cost escalations, besides hindering timely completion of projects,” the committee said in response, adding that a mechanism should be put in place to eliminate all impediments in the initial planning stages of a project itself. Pitching for allocation of sufficient funds to the railways to complete pending projects, the committee said that there would be cost over-run in these projects due to delayed completion.