Andhra-Telangana Biforcation: Economic Development Package for Rly projects draw Criticism

हैदराबाद Hyderabad (HYD): The indications made by the Sivaramakrishnan committee in the economic development package for railway projects has drawn sharp criticism from experts, who said the suggestions have been made without considering the project priority and development of residual AP.

Railway officials and experts wondered on what basis the committee has made the suggestions, which if approved by the Centre, would get central assistance assured by the AP Reorganization Act. “Barring Bibi Nagar-Nallapadu electrification, which would be instrumental in improving connectivity to Hyderabad, none of the other projects mentioned are nearing completion or will bring development to the newly-formed states,” said a senior railway official who did not want to be named.

The committee had indicated eight projects under the Andhra Pradesh Transport Development Package, which would cost the Centre Rs 7,305 crore. Barring two, all other projects had been sanctioned in the railway budget. The doubling of Tenali-Repalle line and electrification of the 248 km Bibinagar-Nallapadu line were the only projects that were not sanctioned.

According to experts, the committee missed out Nandyal-Yerragunta and Krishnapatnam-Obulavaripalli lines, which are the most important new projects for Andhra Pradesh. “The Nandyal line is nearing completion. Of the 126 km, 100 km has been completed. The South Central Railway has to finish this project by March 31, but this did not get the required push in the committee’s report,” an expert said.

He also pointed out that given the uncertainty over the fate of Dugarajpatnam port, the new line from Gudur to Dugarajpatnam, which was indicated by the committee, is a low-priority project. “The Obulavaripalle-Krishnapatnam line could have been given the impetus,” he said.

Experts also wondered why importance was given to electrification of Dronachalam to Nallapadu, which is part of a bigger electrification project from Guntakal to Guntur. On the emphasis given to Nadikudi-Srikalahasti line, which was sanctioned in 2011-12, experts said it may not accrue revenue for the Railways.

“Given that the line would pass through some of the most underdeveloped areas of the state, it would be difficult from an economic viewpoint. Passenger revenues would be small, as evinced by the poor returns on same-day trains like Kacheguda-Tirupati double decker, which runs with less than 20% occupancy,” they said.