No let-up seen in East Coast Railway’s iron ore movement woes

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on November 21, 2017 Published on November 08, 2012


Iron ore movement along the 450-km long Kottavalasa-Kirandul (KK) rail line has remained suspended for the past few days due to damage caused by the cyclone Neelam between Badavara and Chimidipalli stations.

The KK line network, which comes under the Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway (ECoR), is used mainly for transportation of iron ore from NMDC’s Bailadila mines in Chhattisgarh to Visakhapatnam, partly to meet the requirements of Vizag Steel Plant and other sponge iron units located in that region and partly for exports through Visakhapatnam port.

According to ECoR officials, the cyclone, which lashed the undulating topography through which the line passes, has not only caused landslides breaching the railway line with consequent derailment of rakes but also accumulation of 8,000 cubic metres of mud on a section between Badavara and Srungavarapukota stations, throwing up huge problems. “We’re at our wit’s end as to how to clean it up”, they said.

As a result, as many 35 loaded rakes — 28 for Vizag steel plant and seven meant for exports, are stranded at various points on the route. Similarly a number of empties too are also held up at the steel plant and the port. “We’re trying our best to clear them”, officials said.

Much to be done

ECoR’s iron ore loading so far this fiscal leaves much to be desired. As it is, iron ore movement on the KK line has been sluggish due to poor demand of the ore for exports, pricing issue and other problems. The present natural calamity has dealt a severe blow to already sagging traffic.

In addition, there has been no loading of the ore in the Nayagarh-Banspani-Jaruli area for the past three months or so, due to a variety of reasons such as the Government restriction, slump in overseas demand for the ore and others.

The cyclone Neelam has also hit loading of domestic coal at Talcher mines and of imported coal at ports served by ECoR. On November 1, there was industrial unrest at Talcher causing suspension of rake loading. The cyclone arrived the next day, with the result that normal mining and loading operations were thrown out of gear.

Till October, ECoR handled a total traffic of 72.7 million tonnes (mt), up by about six mt over 66.24 mt handled in the same period of the previous year, but lower by 1.2 mt than the pro-rata target of 73.9 mt set for the period.

Coal accounts for about 55 per cent of ECoR’s total freight loading but coal loading in August and September was not-so-satisfactory due to the monsoon. It improved in October but again took a hit in November. Yet, ECoR is hopeful of achieving the total freight traffic target of 130 mt set for the current fiscal against 120.7 mt handled in 2011-12.

“Much of course would depend on the weather “, the sources observed, adding, “our network lies mostly along the east coast, (which is) vulnerable to unpredictable climatic conditions”.

> santanu.sanyal@thehindu.co.in

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Published on November 08, 2012
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