नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: The Railways Ministry has maintained that since almost all these lines are financially unremunerative, it would want the operational losses to be reimbursed by the government. Days after Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar talked of working out a policy-framework to fast-track environment clearances for roads and defence projects in border areas, the Railways Ministry is all set now to expedite the construction of 14 strategic projects — mainly in border areas — that have failed to take-off for want of funds.
Speaking to media, Railways Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said, “I am writing to the Finance Minister in this regard. If need be, we’ll get a special package to complete these projects. Like the safety of railways is important, the safety of the country is equally important. It is the collective responsibility of all the concerned ministries — Defence, Finance, Home and Railways — to ensure that these critically strategic projects are put in the fast lane.” Gowda added that all the necessary options will be explored to ensure that these projects are taken up on priority basis.
These 14 projects have been hanging fire because of the Railways’ stance that it would construct these lines only if they are fully-funded by either the Defence or the Finance Ministry.
The Railways Ministry has maintained that since almost all these lines are financially unremunerative, it would want the operational losses to be reimbursed by the government.
The Railways’ stance is a direct fallout of the huge shelf of pending projects the ministry has got saddled with over the years. Its own estimates suggest that Railways would require over Rs 4 lakh crore to clear its pending project shelf.
These 14 strategic line projects — 13 new lines and one doubling project — involve laying down of 2,888 km of railway tracks in Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Punjab.
Some of the important new lines the Defence Ministry has proposed include Srinagar-Kargil-Leh, Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch and Pathankot-Leh route. In terms of priority, the MoD has listed three projects in the Northeast — Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai-Parasuramkund new line project, Misamari-Tawang new line and North Lakhimpur-Along-Silapather new line — at the top. A new line between Patti-Ferozepur in Punjab and a doubling project between Jodhpur-Jaisalmer are fourth and fifth on the priority list.