Santanu Sanyal

Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh), July 28

IN the first quarter of the current fiscal (April-June 2005-06), South East Central Railway (SECR), the largest originating freight loading zone of the Indian Railways, handled a total of 24.23 million tonnes (mt) of originating freight traffic as compared to 21.72 mt in the same period last fiscal, thus posting an 11.56 per cent growth.

However, the achievement of 2.51 mt of incremental traffic falls short of the target of 26 mt set for the quarter by 1.77 mt.

Mr Pramod Kumar, General Manager of SECR, while talking to Business Line , attributed this to the not-so-satisfactory loading of coal, accounting for more than 70 per cent of the zone's total originating freight traffic. "Coal loading in April and May was good but not so in June and July for a variety of reasons," he said. Coal companies, despite meeting their own targets, were not able to fully utilise the capacity of the Railways, he added. During the quarter under review, SECR's incremental coal throughput of 1.47 mt at 17.17 mt represented a 9.35 per cent growth. The corresponding figures of other freight items include an incremental traffic of 0.14 mt at 2.46 mt for cement (growth of 6.04 per cent). Finished steel from Bhilai Steel Plant had an incremental traffic of 0.08 mt at 0.81 mt, a growth of 11.59 per cent. Raw materials for the steel plant had an incremental traffic of 0.43 mt at 2.44 mt, showing a growth of 21.06 per cent. Foodgrains had an incremental traffic of 0.29 mt at 0.80 mt (a 56 per cent growth), while other goods had an incremental traffic of 0.10 mt at 0.53 mt (a growth of 22.4 per cent). Conceding that the volume of traffic handled by SECR to and from Bhilai Steel Plant so far in the current fiscal had been satisfactory, Mr Kumar, however, was not sure if the trend would persist for the rest of the year, particularly in view of the cooling of the steel sector.

In 2005-06, SECR proposed to spend more than Rs 400 crore on various projects, including doubling of the line capacity, construction of a third line on certain stretches between Jharsuguda and Nagpur , signalling improvement, development of sidings, electrification and modernisation of yards. "For this, the Railway Board has provided Rs 400 crore," he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 29, 2005)
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