Chhapra Wheel Factory yet to be declared open

PATNA: The clearance from Railway Board notwithstanding, the wheel factory located at Belapur, Chhapra, is yet to be declared open by the railways. The factory has not been made functional despite installation of machinery plants at the factory and completion of trial production under the supervision of experts.

According to sources, railways conducted trial production of wheels from this factory in March last year. As per the plan, it also took up performance guarantee test (PGT) of the wheels in August last year which was mandatory prior to starting full-fledged production of wheels, sources said. The wheel plant at Chhapra had successfully carried out wheel casting process. The semi-manufactured wheels, which were brought to the factory from Bangalore railway wheel factory, were given final finish here. About 500 such wheels were given final finish at the Chhapra plant, sources said.

According to an ECR official, the railway successfully produced a set of seven wheels during trial production stage. Railways used about 17 tonnes of super fine scrap materials to produce these wheels. Rare equipment and machinery tools have been installed at the factory to produce quality wheels to fulfill the needs of railways, he said.

The project has cost about Rs 1,417.23 crore to railways. Former railway minister Lalu Prasad had kicked off the civil work of the wheel factory on July 29, 2008. Since then work on the project continued uninterrupted, sources said. Railways has acquired 138 acres of land at Belapur. It acquired 52 acre land land for the factory, 35 acres for rail siding yard to store wheels in stacks and 51.76 acres of land for constructing railway colony for its employees, sources said, adding Chhapra wheel factory which is the second in the country after the one in Bangalore, would fulfill the needs of Indian Railways.

The factory has the capacity to produce about one lakh wheels of goods wagons, passenger coaches and locomotives per year fulfilling the needs of the entire eastern and northern regions of the country. Besides, wheels at this factory is being manufactured on the latest US based Griffin technology, sources said adding railway colony is a must on the factory campus so that staff and officials could live on the campus to monitor production process shiftwise. Uninterrupted supply of electricity is also required for the factory to complete wheel casting without any hindrance, sources said.