Procurement to help the utility clear pending track renewal work, says Goyal
NEW DELHI: In a first, the Ministry of Railways has floated a global tender to procure seven lakh tonne of rail, worth about ₹3,500 crore, instead of purchasing from the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), in a bid to clear pending track renewal work.
“We floated a global tender on October 12 to procure seven lakh tonne additional rail, which will help us to ensure that the backlog of track renewal is cleared,” said Piyush Goyal, Railways Minister, on Wednesday.
“We were not able to meet the demand for track renewal due to shortage of rail,” he said.
At present, the Railways procures rail solely from public sector SAIL which is the largest steel producer in the country. The move comes five months after the Union Cabinet approved a policy to provide preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products in government procurement.
“We are going to stick to our commitment to procure steel from SAIL. We are procuring steel from open market to meet the shortfall of rail for new lines, gauge conversion and doubling,” said a top Ministry of Railways official.
The Ministry had decided that the rails earmarked for constructing new lines would be diverted for renewing tracks in accident-prone areas in the wake of rising derailment cases.
SAIL had committed to supply 11.45 lakh tonne rail to the Railways in 2017-18, leaving a deficit of 3.14 lakh tonnes. A NITI Aayog report earlier this year raised concerns over delay in overdue track replacement that could likely lead to train accidents. In 2016-17, the Railways renewed 2,487 km tracks compared with 2,794 km in 2015-16 and 2,424 km in 2014-15.
According to a ‘White Paper on Indian Railways’ published in February 2015, the Railways has a total track length of 1,14,907 km and on average, 4,500 km should be ideally renewed every year.