With an aim to check unwanted delays, from now on Railways Ministry will review further investment in new lines that have been stuck 'for a long period' due to delay in land acquisition.
With an aim to check unwanted delays, from now on Railways Ministry will review further investment in new lines that have been stuck ‘for a long period’ due to delay in land acquisition. The ministry has sent a letter to chief secretaries last week in this regard. The Railway Board requested states to initiate or expedite the land-acquisition process so that “project activities” may continue. “General Managers of Zonal Railways have also been empowered to review further investments where state support is not forthcoming and the projects have remained in limbo for a long period,” states the letter from Railway Board Additional Member (Works) Ajit Pandit.
The Railways is currently involved in projects worth over Rs 4 lakh crore, including 171 projects on new lines, most of which would require land acquisition — doubling of lines and gauge conversion projects is mostly done on Railway land. “There are joint ventures in which states give land as part of their equity. Then, there are regular new-line projects for which land needs to be acquired in states. This policy is to make sure that the land acquisition process does not hold up progress in projects,” said a senior ministry official.
Earlier on November 5, Railways had said that for the first time, no new rail lines will be built without completion of land acquisition to ensure that work does not get stuck midway because of non-availability of land. Under a new policy, the national transporter has virtually forbidden the issuance of tenders or start of work on any new project without land in hand or a written assurance from the state government guaranteeing land to the railways within a specific time frame. “The (Railway) Board has decided that issue of tenders or commencement of physical work for new line projects shall be taken up only after completion of land acquisition,” the new policy says
Currently, only 70 per cent of the land needed to be acquired to start a project, which often led to stoppages and delays because of non-availably of land or earmarked land being caught in litigation Officials said that the existing policy did not define the acquired line needed to be linear, so problems arose when projects would start having issues when part work begins and the next section of land was not available.