Railways scores over shipping counterpart on performance

New Delhi:  The year-end review issued by Shipping Ministry on December 23 has hardly anything to cheer about. It has no achievements to highlight, unlike the Railway Ministry which issued a long list of projects and programmes that helped enhance the industry scenario like never before.

The ministry talks about the target to increase the port capacity by the end of Twelfth Five Year Plan to 2493.10 MTPA with the major ports accounting for about 50% of this capacity.

However, upto December 1, it has been able to award only 13 projects out of the 30 targeted projects involving an additional capacity of 282 MTPA with an investment of Rs. 24959 crore. The 13 projects awarded entailed an investment of Rs. 3831.30 crores and an additional capacity of 80.85 MTPA.

While capacity enhancement plans are announced year after year, there is a huge backlog of projects to go on stream and many of them are running much beyond schedule.

Though the review points out that in the year 2013-14 , the ministry has been focusing on new capacity augmentation projects and mechanization projects apart from capital dredging projects, it has no statistics to show. Instead it ends with the oft repeated ‘work in progress’ line about two new major ports, one at Sagar Island in West Bengal and the other at Durgarajpatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

The review is silent on a major issue impacting the ports under the control of the ministry: dwindling cargo traffic. Throughput at major ports have been consistently reducing for the last three years. According to available data the government controlled ports handled 570 million tonnes (MT) in 2010-11 ; 560 MT in 2011-12 and 546 MT in 2012-13 .

On the other hand, last year has been a significant one for the railways in achieving goals and targets with regard to putting on fast track infrastructure projects like loco manufacturing , elevated rail corridor , dedicated freight corridor and station redevelopment . It has also formulated a proactive Automobile Freight Train Operator Scheme during the year.

Besides implementing many socially relevant programmes , last year, the railways entered the one billion tonne select club in freight movement joining Chinese, Russian and USA railways.

What is noteworthy is that the ministry in consultation with ministry of power and ministry of coal has jointly identified 30 coal connectivity projects for swift evacuation and transportation of coal during 12th Five Year Plan period and beyond .

It has also launched High Speed Rail Corporation of India which could transform rail transportation in the country like never before .

Its project of ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor’ (DFC) continued its implementation momentum during last year. There has been progress on both the corridors namely 1499 km long Western DFC from Jawahar Lal Nehru Port in Mumbai to Dadri/ Tughlakabad and 1839 km long Eastern DFC from Ludhiana to Dankuni, Near Kolkata. It said 94% of land acquisition work has been completed till November 2013