NEW DELHI: A railway panel has suggested that land for the national transporter's projects should be acquired only after sanction of works or before signing of construction contracts, to avoid delays in their completion.
According to a report of the statistics ministry submitted last month, more than three-fifths of the total 349 delayed central projects belong to the railways, causing a cost overrun of Rs 1.73 lakh crore.
"Delay in land acquisition and shifting of utilities are causing abnormal delay in commencing and completing the project. These two activities should be taken up and completed before finalising the contracts for actual execution of the work," the report said.
"These two should be taken up immediately after sanction of projects."
Under the present practice, construction contracts are processed without finalising drawing and plans, land acquisition and shifting of utilities like removal of trees, electrical poles etc., the report said.
The panel in its report on 'Improving Project Execution and Monitoring' has said while the completion periods are given as three to four years in the contract, in many cases it takes double the duration.
This, the panel said was adversely affecting the profit of contractors "leading to termination of many contracts and also arbitrations and litigations."
The report has said that General Managers should be delegated the powers for sanctioning part estimates and incurring expenditure for land acquisition and shifting of utilities to expedite the process.
The cost of the delay in railway projects can be estimated by the data provided in the statistics ministry report which monitored 350 projects of Indian Railways in October last year.
The total anticipated cost of the 213 delayed projects ballooned to Rs 2,96,496.70 crore from original cost of Rs 1,23,103.45 crore because of delays, it said, which is an overall cost escalation of 140.85 per cent.
The report of the rail panel was submitted to the Railway Board last month and is under consideration.