Kanjikode rail coach factory on slow track

PALAKKAD: Uncertainty prevails over the fate of the INR 550 crore coach factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad district as the construction of the boundary wall around the 92.04 hectares of land handed over by the State to Railways and preparation of the request for proposal for inviting global competitive tenders are dragging on.

Only INR 216.83 crore has been allocated to the State in this year’s railway budget, and of this only INR 56.69 crore has been set apart for the coach factory project. Also, despite top level consultations, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest is yet to de-notify the 36 hectares of forestland additionally sought by the Railways for the project.

Railways are unhappy with the way things are progressing for the coach factory, announced in the 2008-09 railway budget. Though it was announced that Steel Authority of India Limited will partner with the project, no progress has been made on this front.

The Rail India Technical and Engineering Services is yet to frame a Request for Proposal for inviting global competitive tenders for the project. A top railway official said that “Once the RFP is framed and submitted, we can seek Expression of Interest and invite global tenders for selecting a partner.”

Rather than adopting the public-private partnership mode with the private investor having a 76% stake, a public public sector partnership was best suitable for the project. A trilateral agreement with a competent partner, technology support, progressive transfer of technology and indigenisation could do wonders for the project. The official added that “The nod of Railways and a Cabinet decision are needed for adopting the new mode.”