The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pulled up the Railway Ministry for the delay in construction of eastern and western dedicated freight corridors (EDFC and WDFC) and the inability of the Indian railways for ensuring a time table for goods trains operation.

The CAG audit, which was tabled in parliament on Wednesday, audited the efficiency in planning the implementation of the project and the evaluation of the economy and efficiency in execution of contracts. The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) is the implementing agency of the project.

Test check in the audit revealed that the delay in commissioning burdened the project with avoidable expenditure of ₹2,690 crore as against the total expenditure of ₹74,028 crore incurred on the project till March 2021. “Delay in completion of project also deprived DFCCIL/Indian Railways of intended objective of creation of additional line capacity to increase freight traffic share,” the report said.

It added that the project suffered from several setbacks right from the planning stage to its execution. It particularly pointed out instances of planning deficiencies in implementation of DFC between Sonnagar and Dankuni through PPP mode, maintenance of rolling stock of DFC, land acquisition, upgradation of feeder routes etc. “Inaccurate assessment of land and delay in payment of compensation/award to project affected persons led to avoidable expenditure of ₹285.21 crore. The progress of the project was adversely affected mainly due to delay in awarding of contracts, delay in appointment of consultants, delay in handing over of land to the contractors and finalization of designs etc,” the report said.

It said the objective of formation of DFCCIL with 100 per cent equity of Railways Ministry to avoid any time or cost overrun and also to get both the DFCs positioned within five years of their commencement was defeated. “Except a small stretch of 657 Km, the project remained incomplete till March 2021,” the report said.

No Punctuality

The audit also found no perceptible improvement in mobility outcome indicators despite significant investments of ₹ 2.5 lakh crore for infrastructure during the last decade (2008-19). “Audit found 0.18 per cent improvement in punctuality performance of Express trains, 0.61 per cent improvement in the average speed of Express trains and decrease of 9.72 per cent in the average speed of goods trains. Further, as against the contribution of 51 per cent of five critical factors (path, traffic, engineering, block and signal and telecommunication), only 19.81 per cent of expenditure was made against these factors,” the report said.

It said the target dates for achieving the speed of 160 kmph kept getting revised from 1960 onwards. The report said a conflict results in providing precedence to one train over other and requirement of additional allowances. “The current Working Time Table for the New Delhi- Howrah route has around 12,500 conflicts,’ the CAG said. The auditor recommended that the Ministry should work out an implementation strategy for a freight service time-table to ensure guaranteed delivery time of consignments to customers and said such a time table with scientific basis will lead to generation of additional paths for passenger/freight trains. “This would also lead to correct assessment of line capacity utilisation,” the report said.