Dedicated Freight Corridor braves Covid, completes 17% planned expenditure

The Indian Railways is planning to complete the project by 2021
Braving the Covid storm and the lockdown, the Indian Railways invested around Rs 1,952 crore between April and June this year, which is more than 17 per cent of the total capital expenditure planned for the current financial year.  

Interestingly, from March to June, the Capex stood at Rs 4,800 crore. In a presentation to Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar earlier this week, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCCIL) said it employed more than 22,000 people during the lockdown. For 2020-21, the total capex lined up for the project is around Rs 11,344 crore, up 13 per cent from Rs 10,034 crore during 2019-20.

The Indian Railways is planning to complete the project by 2021. As a step towards this, the DFC is doing away with the manual laying of tracks and has deployed state-of-the-art track construction machines in both the eastern (EDFC) and western corridors (WDFC). On Wednesday, around 1.56-km track was laid with the help of the new track construction (NTC) machine on the Khurja-Dadri section of the eastern dedicated freight corridor. In the EDFC, four NTC machines have been deployed in the Allahabad–New Bhaupur, Allahabad–Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction, Bhaupur–Bhadan, Khurja Dadri sections. And in WDFC, three machines have been deployed at Palanpur-Makarpura, Gothangam-Baroda and Anchali-Sachin sections respectively.  

Kumar appreciated the speedy implementation of the project which is scheduled to be completed in time and said that DFCCIL would act as a crucial multiplier for the Indian economy.

During the Covid time, the DFCCIL made several policy interventions, including modification of a cost centre enabling payment of Rs 930 crore to contractors. In the Eastern DFC, the World Bank is funding the 1,192-Km Ludhiana (Punjab) to Mughalsarai (Uttar Pradesh) stretch. Out of Rs 30,358 crore, the World Bank is extending Rs 13,625 crore for the project. On the other hand, the Western DFC (WDFC) is being partly funded through a loan of Rs 38,722 crore from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) out of the project cost of Rs 51,101 crore. The remaining part of the project cost for both the corridors is funded through gross budgetary support from the Government of India as equity contribution.

The Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight corridors are expected to see investments to the tune of Rs 81,459 crore. On the other hand, two other corridors, East-West (EWDFC) and East-Coast (ECDFC) DFCs at investments of around Rs 1.23 trillion are also expected to be in place by 2027. Based on a RITES projection, the EWDFC may handle around 449.88 million tonne (MT) traffic by 2031-32 and 690.6 MT by 2041-42. On the other hand, ECDFC may handle 405.11 MT by 2031-32 and 861.02 MT by 2041-42.

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