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PM Narendra Modi highlights project delay by talking of 74km Howrah-Champadanga railway line

At that meeting, the PM told the railways ministry and Bengal government to expeditiously resolve the cost-sharing issue for the land involved in the project.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2017, 11.23 PM IST
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PM told the railways ministry and Bengal government to expeditiously resolve the cost-sharing issue for the land involved in the project.
PM told the railways ministry and Bengal government to expeditiously resolve the cost-sharing issue for the land involved in the project.
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NEW DELHI: The railway line that the prime minister mentioned in his Independence Day speech to highlight the way projects get stuck in the country, is a 74-kilometer track between Howrah and Champadanga in West Bengal. “It came to my notice lately that a 42-year-old project, just a 70-72 km long railway line, has been stuck till date,” PM Modi said on Tuesday.

“When a country, which can make Mangalyaan within nine months, is not able to make a 70-km-odd railway line in 42 years, a question rises in the mind of the poor that what will happen of the country. When a project gets stuck, the maximum loss is to the poor families.” The PM was referring to a broadgauge railway line to be laid to connect Howrah, Amta and Champadanga, senior rail officials told ET. Construction of the track, they said, was first approved in 1975.Champadanga, senior rail officials told ET. Construction of the track, they said, was first approved in 1975.

“The PM had taken up this project for a detailed review in his last PRAGATI meeting on July 12. He was shocked to know the delay in the project. Strict timelines were fixed by the PM then to finish the project soon,” a senior government official said. PRAGATI is a programme launched by Modi in 2015 to address common man’s grievances as well as monitor and review important programmes of the government.

At that meeting, the PM told the railways ministry and Bengal government to expeditiously resolve the cost-sharing issue for the land involved in the project. He instructed the ministry and Bengal must work in a coordinated way to ensure expeditious completion of this project.

There is already a standard-gauge railway line between Howrah and Amta. The project involves converting this section to broad gauge and extending it to Champadanga. It was sanctioned in 1975 at an original cost of Rs 32 crore.

A CAG report in 2015 said the first 24 km of the stretch was completed in 1984, but construction work beyond that was frozen for over a decade. Only a token allocation of Rs 1,000 was allotted for a decade till 1995-1996, CAG said. Work resumed in 1995, but non-acquisition of land again hit the project, which was once close to be scrapped.

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