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Rly Minister non-committal on fare hike in Budget

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Pawan Kumar Bansal
Pawan Kumar Bansal

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that people will have to wait for another 17-18 days to hear about any revision in rail fares.

On whether he would consider more fare increases after the recent diesel price hike took away close to 40 per cent of the Railways’ incremental earnings, Bansal said that the decision will be public in about two-three weeks.

Incidentally, while announcing a fare hike in January, Bansal had ruled out any further hikes in Railway Budget. However, even before the Railways could start collecting the incremental earnings from fare hike, oil firms announced a Rs 10 a litre hike for bulk consumers such as the Railways.

He was speaking at a conference to announce the Cabinet nod with regards to investments in three Railway projects, from non-Railway stakeholders.

RAIL PROJECT INVESTMENT

Meanwhile, the Cabinet approved three project proposals of Indian Railways that involve investments in broad gauge and port-connectivity projects from non-railway firms. Two projects will connect coal fields, and one project will improve connectivity to western ports such as Kandla and Mundra, informed Bansal.

The environment clearances for the projects were being processed at the highest level.

These projects are expected to provide 22-26 per cent returns.

The new broad gauge line between Gevra Road and Pendra Road- South East Central Railway will connect the Mand-Raigarh coal belt. This is a coal field with reserves of mostly power grade coal, and strategically located to bridge the gap between demand and supply of Western India.

The total geological reserve of Mand –Raigarh Coal field is estimated at around 16000 million tonnes. Total projected production of coal in Mand collieries is about 100 million tonnes a year. Keeping this growth potential in mind, rail connectivity is essentially required for this coal belt that will also serve the coal needs of Western UP, Delhi and Haryana. The rate of return is 22.39 per cent.

Another New Broad Gauge line to connect the coal belt of Raigarh (Mand Collieries) to Rail network at Bhupdeopur (63 Km)- South East Central Railway.

The third project is to build double lines on the Palanpur-Samakhiali section, which will serve as a feeder route to the Western freight corridor.

Mamuni.das@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 7, 2013)
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