RITES Ltd moots Rail Corridor to boost coastal Coal Shipping

rites-hq-officeNew Delhi; RITES Ltd, the consultancy arm of Indian Railways, has proposed a heavy haul rail corridor connecting Salegaon (Maharashtra) with the Paradip port. The cost of the project is estimated at Rs 3,298 crore and it is being taken up mainly to boost coastal shipping of coal.

Officials of RITES recently made a presentation on the proposed corridor to the Ministry of Coal.

The project is proposed to be developed in two phases. In the first phase, the corridor will be built from Salegaon to Kandarpur near Cuttack — this is expected to be completed by 2021. This would help ease the congestion around Kandarpur. Subsequently, the corridor is planned to be extended to Paradip port. The commissioning of this phase is set to be co-terminus with an outer harbour planned by the major port under Government of India’s Sagarmala initiative. Paradip Port is developing the outer harbour with a capacity to handle 160 million tonne of cargo each year. This project is designed to augment shipping of coal to the southern states. Investment on the outer harbour is pegged at Rs 8,200 crore. The outer harbour with a daft of up to 22 metres would be capable of handling large Capesize vessels with 200,000 dwt (dead weight tonnage).

Paradip Port Trust (PPT) has roped in Howe Engineering Products (India) Ltd as consultant for carrying out the feasibility study for its outer harbour project taken up under Government of India’s Sagarmala initiative. The consultant will submit the report within six months.

Meanwhile, the survey and alignment design for the proposed rail corridor is targeted to be done by December this year. Formation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and submission of draft detailed project report (DPR) are expected by March 2017.

The need for evacuating coal and building rail network with associated infrastructure has gained importance given the ambitious coal production goals in the country and Odisha in particular. Coal India Ltd (CIL), the world’s single largest coal producer is eyeing an output of one billion tonne by 2020. Its arm Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) with operations in Odisha’s Ib and Talcher coalfields, is tipped to the biggest contributor with 250 million tonne production. Constraints in infrastructure posed a hurdle to MCL’s coal offtake, especially from the coal rich Basundhara region.

Movement of coal through inland waterways is seen as a viable alternative to de-congest traffic at ports and rail heads. Inland waterways Authority of India has agreed to provdie infrastructure to move three to four million tonne of coal per annum by March 2019.