Freight Corridor: 538-km stretch in East may prove a tricky job

Pratim Ranjan Bose Guwahati | Updated on September 23, 2019

Few firms left with deep enough pockets to undertake the work

The much-awaited Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) may soon become a reality. Of the total 3,360-km, construction of 2,822 km stretch is on the fast track, and bids may be invited for the remaining 538 km Shonnagar-Dankuni stretch of Eastern DFC by the end of this year or early next year.

Divided in two sections (Shonnagar-Gomoh and Gomoh-Dankuni), this segment will be built in PPP mode, either through BOT (build-own-transfer) or annuity models. A decision on the exact modalities is pending.

As the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCCIL) is in possession of 87 per cent of land, forest and environment clearances, there are no major worries for completion, except one , that is finding suitable partners from a basket of merely four-five eligible companies

The the size of the projects may pose a worry. DFCCIL estimates the cost of the entire 538 km at ₹12,218 crore.

However according to sources, the cost of each of the two sections may go up to ₹10,000 crore. And, there are not many construction companies left with requisite balance-sheet size.

Sources are hopeful that if the contractor is identified the project can be implemented in six years. The work involves over two kms of tunneling in Kodarma (Jharkhand) where rock strata coexist with fractured coal seams, making the whole proposition geologically unstable.

Meanwhile, work is advancing fast in the rest of the Eastern DFC, from Shonnagar to Ludhiana (1,318 km).

The 343 km Khurja-Bhaupur section of EDFC in Uttar Pradesh is scheduled for completion in November. The 574-km stretch from Bhaupur to Dadri, also in UP, will be completed in December 2020. The 401 km segment from Khurja to Pilkhani (Punjab) will be completed in December 2021.

Despite land related issues, the progress is relatively faster on Western DFC. The 641-long Rewari (Haryana)-Palanpur (Gujarat) will be completed by March 2020. The residual segment will be completed in 2021. WDFC s built with JICA finance.

Overall, there is 58 per cent physical progress in 2,822-km stretch, of EDFC and WDFC together, which is under construction.

Published on September 23, 2019

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