General Electric will spend Rs 750 crore to set up the diesel locomotive manufacturing plant at Marhaura in Saran – around 75km northwest of Patna – which will be ready by July 2018, a top official at the US conglomerate told.
During his maiden Patna visit last month, US ambassador Richard Rahul Verma had announced that GE will be manufacturing from the Saran plant 900 of the total 1,000 diesel locomotives it will make for Indian Railways while the rest will be manufactured at the company’s existing facility in the US.
The company will deliver the first locomotive to the railways by January 2018, said Nalin Jain, president and CEO, rail, mining, defence and aerospace, GE.
“The construction of the Marhaura plant will get under way within two months and the unit would be ready for manufacturing locomotives by July 2018,” Jain told on the sidelines of the one-day Bihar Entrepreneurship Summit. “A sum of Rs 750 crore would be spent in constructing the plant.”
The Saran unit is being set up in the public-private-partnership mode. The railways will provide land, electricity and basic infrastructure support; GE will bear the expense of setting up the unit and other recurring costs.
“We (GE) have not got the physical possession of the land as yet but we expect it soon,” said Jain. “The land acquisition process has been completed. The plant will help Bihar in many ways. Apart from a big investment, the plant will generate a lot of local employment.”
Industries department principal secretary S. Sidhartha said the state government was in talks with GE to maximise the Marhaura unit’s impact.
“With the locomotive manufacturing unit coming up at Marhaura, the local industries here too can connect and set up ancillary units for the plant and grow,” Sidhartha said. “It can be a wonderful opportunity for the state’s industrialisation.”
Nalin said the state government proposal was being considered, “but right now one cannot comment on it”.
A senior official of the East Central Railway (ECR) had told in February that 226.9 acres of land had been acquired for the Marhaura factory. Another senior ECR official said: “GE will be taking possession of the land acquired by the railways this week in all probability.”
The diesel locomotive factory was first conceptualised when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister in the first UPA government. He laid the foundation stone for the factory in October 2007, but the project remained in limbo for almost eight years. The NDA government revived the project in January 2015, giving cabinet approval for the project’s execution via public-private-partnership.
In November last year, the railway ministry signed an agreement with GE for the Marhaura plant. The plant entails a total cost component of Rs 2,052 crore.
“Rs 750 crore is being spent just on the construction of the manufacturing plant,” said the ECR official. “The rest of the amount will be mainly spent on the manufacturing of the locomotives besides development of the basic infrastructure.”