Railway projects worth Rs 10,736 crore were cleared by the government on Wednesday for improving infrastructure in various states, including Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat that go to polls next year.
The projects, including three for doubling of existing rail lines and two for laying a third rail line on busy routes, were cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I am happy to say that the CCEA has approved projects worth Rs 10,736 crore for doubling and tripling (of railway lines). There are a total of five new projects, three doubling projects for 763 kms and two third line projects for 514 kms.
"The benefit of these projects obviously will go to several states but two important states will benefit immensely, one is Gujarat and the other is Uttar Pradesh," Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at a press conference after the meeting.
Providing details of the projects, he said, in Gujarat the CCEA has given approval for doubling of Surendranagar-Rajkot project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,002.39 crore with expected completion cost of Rs 1,137.17 crore with 5 per cent escalation per annum.
The length of the railway line will be 116.17 kms. The completion period of the project will be four years.
"It is a major push to Gujarat's industrialisation ability," he said.
He said the doubling of this line will greatly ease the ever increasing freight traffic between Okha-Rajkot, Porbandar-Kanalus, Veraval-Rajkot and Maliya Maiyana - Navalakhi-Dahinsara-Wankaner sections.
In UP, he said the doubling of Roza-Sitapur Cantt-Burhwal broad gauge single line project has been approved at an estimated cost of Rs 1,295.42 crore with expected completion cost of Rs 1,486.46 crore with 5 per cent escalation per annum.
The length of the railway line will be 180.77 kms. The completion period of the project will be five years.
The doubling of this line between Burhwal junction and Roza junction will fulfill the demand of the increasing traffic leading to socio-economic development of the area.
Besides, there will be continuous double line track available from Gorakhpur to Delhi via Sitapur Cantonment and Moradabad.
Barabanki and Sitapur districts of UP would also be benefited through this project.
Prabhu said the CCEA also gave its nod for doubling of Pune-Miraj-Londa railway line in Maharashtra at an estimated cost of Rs 3,627.47 crore and expected completion cost of Rs 4,246.84 crore in five years keeping in view the 5 per cent escalation per annum.
The length of the railway line will be 467 kms.
Besides the travelling people, industries in and around Miraj-Londa section will have additional transport capacity to meet their requirements.
Doubling of this line will greatly ease the ever increasing freight traffic on the Pune-Miraj-Londa section thereby increasing the revenue of the Railways, a railway ministry statement said.
The Pune-Miraj section is non-electrified single line on diesel traction and it is oversaturated.
"The additional traffic running over and above 100 per cent of utilisation is proposed to be diverted on the proposed doubling. The doubling of the section would come as an advantage as it would strengthen the rail network necessary to operate more passenger trains with increased speed and better efficiency," it said.
Prabhu said the CCEA also granted approval for the Vizianagaram and Titlagarh third line project at an estimated cost of Rs 2,335.68 crore. The length of the railway line will be 264.6 kms. The completion period of the project will be five years.
The third line is an alternative route to the over-burdened existing line and this link will also open an alternative route to oversaturated Kharagpur Jharsuguda section Howrah-Mumbai Grand Trunk Route and Howrah-Chennai section main line of East Coast Railways.
Rayagada and Kalahandi districts of Odisha and Vizianagaram and Babbili districts of Andhra Pradesh will benefit from this project.
The section is oversaturated with present capacity utilisation of 106 per cent and there is a huge detention to rolling stock.
The Bina-Katni third line project under West Central Railway (WCR) was also approved at an estimated cost of Rs 2,478.23 crore and expected completion cost of Rs 2,917.06 crore in five years. The line will be 278.7 kms long.
Besides facilitating passenger travel, the thermal power plants in the area will get a third line for transportation.
It will also greatly ease the ever-increasing freight traffic between Bina-Katni section increasing the railways' earnings. Sagar, Damoh and Katni districts of Madhya Pradesh will benefit from this project, the ministry said.
The Bina-Katni is critical and busy section of WCR serving coal rakes for thermal power plants at Chhabra Gugur and Jhalawar in Rajasthan and paints, oils and lubricants (POL) traffic for Mahadevkhedi in Madhya Pradesh. At present, the capacity utilisation of the section is 136 per cent, the statement said.
Asked if the approved projects had been accounted for in the Rail Budget, Prabhu said, "Most of them are a mix, but some projects mentioned are with trans-budgetary support and some with extra-budgetary support."
The completion of these projects, he said, will be between three to five years but the time limits given are outer limits and the government will be able to complete the projects earlier.