New Delhi: Faced with a huge backlog of pending projects, railways has accelerated project execution by cutting down tender processing time from 2-3 years to 6-9 months with focus on faster completion of works which are commercially viable and can reap huge benefits for the cash-strapped transporter.
With the fast-track mechanism in place, tendering process for 14 doubling projects worth Rs.13,260 crore out of 77 worth Rs.96,000 crore announced in the rail budget 2015-16 has already started.
According to earlier practice, it used to take 2-3 years after tenders were called for a particular project announced in rail budget. The tardy process has resulted in backlog of around 300 projects costing around Rs 3.5 lakh crore over the years.
Earlier, after a project was included in the budget, it was sent to Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) for ‘in-principle’ approval. Then it used to go to the extended railway board and finally to cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA). Once CCEA approved it, railways would go for the final location survey and subsequently prepare detailed estimates. Expenditure could be incurred only after detailed estimates or part of it had been sanctioned.
“This process takes 2-3 years which means tender can be called roughly two years after a project is included in the budget,” an official said. To cut down the time gap of two years, railways has asked zonal railways to carry out final location survey immediately after work is included in the budget. Zones have been directed to send detailed project report (DPR) to railway board with a reasonably firm cost. After examining DPR, the board sends it to NITI Aayog for ‘in-principle’ approval. CCEA would consider the projects after Aayog’s nod.
“Zones can call tenders soon after Aayog’s approval. However, the financial commitment can be made only after all approvals are in place,” said an official, adding that zones are empowered to sanction detailed estimates and can accept all tenders.
A senior official said, “With new mechanism in place, out of 77 projects, DPRs of 67 has been prepared and received by the board. Around 14 has received Aayog’s nod and they have been sent to CCEA for final approval.”
The projects fast-tracked by railways included works related to providing connectivity to coal and iron mines in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha and busy passenger lines.