FinMin To Seek World Bank Funds For Railways Shortly

New Delhi, Nov 9: | Updated: Nov 10 2003, 05:30am hrs
The finance ministry will shortly make a formal reference to the World Bank for a loan to the Railways. The loan is required for part-funding the ambitious National Rail Vikas Yojana.

Informal discussions between the two sides have already taken place. Though the exact amount of the proposed loan is yet to be decided, $100 million is expected to come in the first phase for safety enhancement works that will be followed by another tranche of $400-million.

Initially, the loan is being sought for safety enhancement work on the New Delhi-Howrah line that forms one arm of the Golden Quadrilateral, say senior officials.

According to the plan charted out by the Railways, two mega bridges at Mongher and Kosi in Bihar will be part of the safety enhancement package to be funded by the Bank. The bridge at Mongrer is estimated to cost Rs 900 crore, while the bridge on the Kosi at Nirmali will cost Rs 325 crore. These two bridges are expected to give an economic rate of return of 16 per cent though the financial return to the Railways may not be very high.

Senior officials also say the Railways will take up the work on the foundation structure for these bridges through its own resources, and that the Bank funding will be taken up for construction of the super structure.

The Rs 1,700-crore bridge at Bogibeel over the Brahmaputra in Assam will be proposed to the Bank separately. We are carrying out socio-environmental impact studies for the Bogibeel bridge project, said a senior official.

The four mega bridges, entailing a total cost of Rs 3,500 crore, form part of the National Rail Vikas Yojana along with the GQ and port connectivity projects.