Under Pressure From Funding Agency, DFCC Reverses Order Terminating Tata Projects For Vaitarana-JN Port Section Of WDFC

  • Though the DFCC was initially reluctant to make the U-turn to revoke the termination order, it was finally revoked given the apprehension of more delay and complications.

Reeling under pressure from the funding agency, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCC) has revoked its contract termination order served to Tata Projects for delaying the 102 km last mile rail link between Viatarana and JNPT in Maharashtra.

The 1,506 km long Western DFC connecting Dadri in Uttar Pradesh with JNPT in Maharashtra is slated to be used for double stack containers and is also vital for Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

As of September this year, about 735 km of Western DFC (306 km long Rewari-Madar stretch, 353 km long Madar-Palanpur stretch and 75 km long Palanpur-Mehsana) have been commissioned.

Tardy Progress In Vaitarana-JN Port section

Perturbed over the abysmally slow pace of execution on the 102 km long crucial stretch in the Western Corridor,  DFCC had given termination notice to Tata Projects on 4 November.

However, on 16 November, DFCC reversed its earlier stand and decided to allow the Tata Projects to continue the work after getting assurance from it that the line construction would be completed by June 2024.

The earlier completion target was December 2023 and with the latest order, it seems that DFCC would miss another target.

Confirming the decision, DFCC Managing Director R K Jain told Swarajya that “it has been done on the basis of assurance given by them (Tata)”.

It is learnt that there has been pressure on the DFCC from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the funding agency, to revoke the termination order and allow Tata Projects to continue with the job.

Though the DFCC was initially reluctant to make the U-turn to revoke the termination order, it was finally revoked given the apprehension of more delay and complications.

While the Railways admits that the mega project has been delayed and an all-out effort has been made to expedite it, contract termination would not have helped in speeding up the work.

DFCC also acknowledges the fact that it has missed many targets in the past. “The land acquisition has created many problems and delayed the whole process. But once the land is acquired and design has been okayed by us then there would not be any delay in execution,” maintains DFCC.

The land acquisition problem has delayed the bullet train project also and instead of 2024, it is slated to be operational in 2029.

The completion of the DFC project is one of top priorities of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav and the Railway Board is reviewing the progress of the project on a weekly basis now, a departure from the earlier practice of monthly review.

A senior DFCC official said “If we continue with the termination order, we would have to float a new tender which would have created a lot of uncertainties. Then the funding agency was not in favour of cancelling the contract at this stage. So considering all these factors we have to reverse the order.”

Admitting that the termination order was a setback for the project, the official said now we all have to try to execute it with close coordination without any further delay.

Though the 102-km long Vitarana-JNPT section contract was given to Tata Projects in 2016, the work progress in this section is only 35 per cent till now. It was this that had forced the DFCC authorities to take the drastic step of cancelling the contract.

Besides the land acquisition issue, the Vitarana-JNPT stretch was also facing the problem of rehabilitation of project-affected persons.

The DFC is expected to reduce the congestion of the existing Indian Railways track. It is also expected to reduce the time required for goods movement between Delhi and Mumbai.

While currently it takes about three days for the freight movement from Delhi to Mumbai, the time would be reduced to less than 24 hours once WDFC is completed.