With four months to polls, little hope for Bihar loco factories

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 10 2014, 10:36am hrs
Theres hardly any chance the R3,500 -crore Bihar loco factories project would come up during UPA-II with just about four months to polls.

The project, rolled out in 2008 by then railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, has already seen three separate auction processes failing over six years. During this period, the railway ministry has also seen seven ministers, with Mallikarjun Kharge being the present minister. (The average tenure of each minister was around 11 months.)

The fourth bid process, initiated after the Cabinet's approval in May, was to be completed by January 31, but the railways is yet to complete even the Request for Qualification (RFQ) process, for which it had to do the shortlisting by July, 2013.

Despite being directly monitored by the PMO, the project has failed to take off. For the R1,300-crore Madhepura rail loco factory, six companies GE, Siemens, Alstom, Bombardier and two Chinese companies, CSR and CNR have applied. For the R1,200-crore Marhowra plant, GE, EMD, CSR and CNR are in the fray.

we are in the last stages of shortlisting companies and the names would be announced soon, after which the request for proposal (RFP) would be called. There have been delays, but the process of shortlisting was very cumbersome, a railway board official said.

The railways says the delay was because the ministry had to get the credentials of 34 international companies verified from the ministry of external affairs.

We had to check with around 34 countries where these companies have supplied locomotives and this process takes a lot of time, railway board chairman Arunendra Kumar had told FE earlier.

The criteria to qualify for the project include the condition that the companies applying should have supplied locomotives to at least three countries or more.

Over a 10-year period, the factories would provide the railways with 800 electric locomotives of 12,000 horsepower (hp) each and a mix of 1,000 diesel locomotives of 4,500 HP and 6,000 hp with high-level performance guarantees, akin to international practices.