Vijay C Roy
Chandigarh, December 7
After over a decade of being in the pipeline, the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) connecting Ludhiana to Dankuni (near Kolkata) in West Bengal is slated to be completed by 2023.
The completion of rail infrastructure on such a huge scale is expected to drive the establishment of industrial corridors and logistic parks along its alignment across states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The EDFC with a route length of 1,856 km consists of two distinct segments: an electrified double-track segment of 1,409 km between Dankuni in West Bengal and Khurja in Uttar Pradesh. It has an electrified single-track segment of 447 km between Ludhiana (Dhandarikalan)-Khurja-Dadri in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Conceived in 2005, the project was hit due to delays in land acquisition and financing arrangements, which hampered finalisation of contracts. The project was initially expected to be completed in 2017. Since then, its deadline has been extended to March 2018, March 2020, December 2021, June 2022 and now the government is targeting to complete it by 2023.
In a reply to a Lok Sabha question, Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said of the 1,337 km in the EDFC, the sections of Bhaupur-Khurja (351 km), Bhimsen-Sujatpur (155 km) and Deen Dayal Upadhayay-Chirailapathu (137 km), Khurja to Dadri (46 km) and Chheoki to Chunar (110 km) — a total of 799 km — had already been completed and operation of trains was in progress. He also mentioned that the work on the remaining sections was in a full swing and targeted for completion in year 2023. Also, a 538-km stretch between Sonnagar in Bihar and Dankuni in West Bengal is being developed under the PPP mode.
Since its inception, the government’s marquee logistics project has undergone several delays due to concerns over land acquisition and contract-awarding lags.
From 2007 to 2014, only 88 per cent of the total land was acquired. Remaining land patches were held up due to land disputes, arbitration and court cases. As a result, even nine years after the announcement, not even single patch has been completed. Then the project was marred by Covid-induced delays. During, the period, the Railways continued to lose traffic to road. This has indirect effect of increasing logistics cost, thereby making trade less competitive.
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