Light at the end of the tunnel

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SummaryAt long last there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Rs.80,000-crore mega project of Dedicated Freight Corridor of Indian Railways.

DFC gets a push with the award of Kanpur-Khurja section contract

RC Acharya

At long last there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the R80,000-crore mega project of Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) of Indian Railways.

Award of the first major contract of R3,300 crore, to design and build the 343-km double-track Kanpur-Khurja section of the eastern leg of the DFC, to a joint venture of Tata Projects India and Spanish partner Aldesa heralds the beginning of a series of such contracts to bring the Railways’ dream piece of infrastructure to life.

An electrified high-capacity freight route, suitable for speeds of 100 km/h and 32·5 tonne axle-loads, promises to ease congestion on the Delhi-Kolkata axis, while helping to reach coal from the far away coalfields of Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand to a string of thermal power plants in UP, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

It is a culmination of a long-drawn, three-stage process that began with 11 bids being received in which the bidders were to suggest suitable technologies. These were then evaluated against performance requirements during the second stage, before financial bids were invited at the third stage.

The World Bank is funding development of the 1,839 km from Ludhiana to Dankuni of the Eastern DFC. The target for completion of the last leg, from Sonnagar to Dankuni, has recently been deferred by a couple of years in view of land acquisition problems being anticipated in West Bengal.

Contract for the first phase of the 1,499-km Western DFC from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai, being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is expected to be awarded later this year.

Conceptualised in April 2005 the ‘game-changer’ plan to win back freight business began with creation of a special purpose vehicle viz. Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) in October 2006, with the project approved for a cost of R28,181 crore. Phase I of the project, viz. Rewari-Vadodara in the western corridor and Sonnagar-Mughalsarai and Mughalsarai-Khurja in the Eastern corridor, was to be completed in 2009-10.

The land required for developing the eastern and western arms of the freight corridors has been estimated at 11,180 hectares. Of this, notification has been issued for nearly 5,000 hectares spread across eight states. The final notice under Section 20E, which gives the Railways special powers to take possession of

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