IRCON, the construction arm of Indian Railways, has floated tenders for construction of Coal India’s 135-km east-west rail corridor Chhattisgarh East West Railway Limited (CEWRL), at an estimated cost of ₹4,970 crore.

In a bid to evacuate increased quantity of coal through rail mode from potentially high-yielding opencast mines of its Chhattisgarh-based subsidiary South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), CIL has formed two special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for construction of rail lines.

While one of the SPVs, Chhattisgarh East Rail Limited (CERL), set up to develop the 136-km east rail corridor at an estimated cost of ₹3,055 crore, is already partly operational, two large-value tenders for construction of the 135-km rail line from Gevra Road to Pendra Road, to be developed by CEWRL, have been floated recently.

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The project is anticipated to be completed by 2023.

The joint venture partners in CEWRL include SECL, representing CIL and the Ministry of Coal, with 64 per cent stake, and IRCON holding 26 per cent stake. Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd is the third partner chipping in with the remaining 10 per cent.

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“IRCON, the executing agency, has floated tenders for the work after the SBI-led consortium of six banks, which are the lenders to this rail corridor, released Lenders Confirmation Notice (LCN) for ₹400 crore as first disbursement in the first week of September 2020. Engineering plans for CEWRL were already in place. And now with finance tied up, the tender has been floated,” said a senior executive of CIL.

The east-west corridor also includes a single rail line of 16 km from Urga to Kusmunda and feeder lines of around 35 km in the region. The 135-km Gevra road to Pendra road is a double line.

“After commissioning, the east-west line will have capacity to move around 65 million tonnes (MTs) of coal per annum from Mand-Raigarh and Korba coalfields of SECL benefitting power plants in western and northern India,” the official said.

CIL has planned the two major lines concomitantly with the development of the Mand-Raigarh coalfields.



east-west corridor is funded on a debt-equity ratio of 80:20. The total equity is ₹994 crore, and debt ₹3,976 crore. The cost of equity is borne as per the shareholding pattern of the SPV.

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Of the debt portion of ₹3,976 crore, SBI will finance ₹1,714 crore; Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India would finance around ₹476 crore each (totalling ₹1,904 crore), while Indian Bank would finance ₹358 crore.

A 44-km rail line of the east rail corridor from Kharsia to Korichapar constructed by CERL became operational in October 2019. This line will eventually extend to Dharamjaigarh and finally till Korba. CERL, which has the same JV partners with a similar holding pattern as that of CEWRL, has evacuation capacity of 35 mt a year. Together, these the rail lines will help reduce the saturated load on the Howrah-Mumbai rail line.