काजीपेट Kazipet (KZJ): The dream of a wagon factory at Kazipet in Warangal district may not fructify in the near future if the Railway Board’s view on establishing such factories across the country are any indication as the South Central Railway’s delay to take possession of the government land that was allotted to it a few years ago due to encroachments.
In a rather startling revelation that could disappoint the Telangana government and others, who are pitching hard for the wagon factory, then Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda in a reply to Warangal MP Kadiam Srihari’s letter, categorically said that the Railway Board was reviewing the need for new wagon factories based on the current requirement, vis-a-vis the available capacity to build wagons and hence work on the project was yet to be taken up.
In the Railway Budget 2010, then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee sanctioned five wagon factories across India at about Rs. 200 crore each, including one at Secunderabad, all on a public-private partnership. With pressure from the then Chief Ministers and a couple of MPs, it was re-located to Kazipet. All that the State had to give was 50 acres of land that was free of encumbrances and of course, encroachments. Land was pooled and the united Andhra Pradesh State government took it over and in turn technically gave it to the control of the District Collector. However, the SCR did not take possession because it did not want to be saddled with the hassle of clearing the encroachments.
Curiously, last month, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had categorically said land acquisition was the biggest challenge for any new railway project. He hinted that only to circumvent this problem, the Railway Board mooted the idea of setting up Special Purpose Vehicles and making State governments a partner.
As for the demand for a rail coach factory, the Ministry constituted a committee of railway officers to look into the feasibility of setting up one, as found in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. The committee was asked to examine feasibility within six months and take an ‘expeditious’ decision.