With the aim of ensuring salaries to the workforce involved in laying rails for the exclusive freight operation, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCC) has made Rs 1500 crore payment to the contractors by the end of March amid the lockdown.
The Rs 1500 crore bill clearance for DFC contractors assumes significance as it would facilitate payments below down the line to thousands of workers involved in electrical, engineering, civil and other sections in the DFC project.
“On an average we make payment of about Rs 10,000 crore to contractors every year. But this time we did extra efforts to ensure that payments are being cleared by the end of March this year so that those workers involved in the project do not suffer,” said DFCC Managing Director Anurag Sachhan.
After missing several targets, DFC project, one of the flagship programmes of Indian Railways, was picking up speed of late.
However, the project suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic as its ongoing track laying work completely stopped resulting in pushing the completion deadline further.
The pandemic has adversely affected many crucial projects including DFC. Railways has taken several steps to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
As of now, 4421 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 117 deaths have been reported in the country. As of now, 4421 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 117 deaths have been reported in the country. 326 persons have been cured/discharged after recovery.
The DFCC was gearing up to open the 300 km long DFC line between Badaun and Kanpur by March 31, which got postponed due to the lockdown.
Till now about 550 km long DFC line from Khurja to Badaun and Rewari to Madar is operational for freight operation.
The DFC project was approved by the government in 2006, but progress has been slow, and several completion deadlines have been missed due to procedural wrangles, land acquisition problems, and difficulty obtaining environment approvals.
DFCC was constituted as a “special purpose vehicle” to undertake planning, development, mobilization of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the corridors.
The Rs 81,000 crore project involves the Eastern and Western DFC routes covering a total length of 3,360 km.
While the Eastern DFC is from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal, the Western DFC would come up from Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai (Maharashtra) to Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.
The Western DFC will largely carry containers and imported coal between the existing and emerging ports in Maharashtra and Gujarat and the northern hinterland, while the Eastern DFC will mainly transport coal and steel.
Once the project is fully operational, the freight trains will run at a maximum speed of 100 kmph compared with an average speed of 27-30 kmph for on the existing rail network.
The DFC will also have a maximum axle load of 32.5 tonnes compared with 22 tonnes on the conventional network.
According to a World Bank/Jica study, traffic is expected to reach 264 million tonnes for Eastern DFC and 284 million tonnes for Western DFC over a 20-year period.