रांची Ranchi (RNC): The Jharkhand cabinet today resolved to renew the MoU between the state and railways for its long-pending track-laying projects till March 2017, earmarking Rs 66.18 crore in fiscal 2014-15 for their speedy completion.
The move follows October 16-17 visit of Union railway minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda who promised all possible help to poll-bound Jharkhand to complete the projects. For this, Gowda asked the state government to release funds as early as possible.
“This financial year, a sum of Rs 66.18 crore has been earmarked. The cabinet has also resolved to renew the period of MoU (between state government and railways for track laying work) till March 2017,” cabinet secretary J.B. Tubid said.
The cabinet counted six pending track-laying projects, work on which had started in 2002, comprising stretches of Koderma-Hazaribagh-Barkakana-Ranchi, Ranchi-Lohardaga-Tori, Koderma-Giridih, Koderma-Tilaiya, Dumka-Rampurhat and Deoghar-Dumka.
For all practical purposes, tracks have been laid on the Deoghar-Dumka stretch. Ranchi Dumka Intercity Express runs on it. The cabinet referred to “six” projects possibly for convenience.
State government officials maintained that out of total 565km lines under six projects, so far 365km were complete.
The MoU between the railways and state government, after extensions, expired in March 2013. About a couple of months ago, the state cabinet resolved to renew the agreement till February 2016 on condition that the projects would be completed in the given time or else Railway Board would bear all costs. It is learnt that the railways did not find the deadline feasible.
Inflation has been a thorny problem. When the projects started in 2002, the total cost was estimated at Rs 1,997 crore with the state’s share being 67 per cent. Later, Centre and state shares were revised to an equal 50 per cent each. But, with the passage of time, costs have escalated some three-fold, with latest estimates putting the total expense at Rs 5,775 crore. So far, the state has given over Rs 2,219 crore to the Railway Board for these projects. It needs to give around Rs 1,002 crore more.