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Konkan Railway deadline extended again

Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji

After announcing several deadlines in the past to commission the country's longest railway line - the 760-km Konkan Railway - government officials now admit that it could be again delayed up to monsoons.

Federal Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan made this clear after personally visiting the problematic tunnels of Pernem and Old Goa here.

The German technology adopted recently to dig into the soft soil may achieve results in bringing the deadline to May-end, he said.

The work seems to be progressing at snail's pace, at the rate of two metres per day at Pernem tunnel with around 350 metres of digging still pending, while only 100 metres of the stretch is giving little more trouble at Old Goa at the rate of less than a metre of digging every day.

According to Paswan, only a technical problem of digging through these two tunnels in Goa remains to be the prime cause of delay. "We initially lost one and a half year due to the realignment controversy in Goa and the financial crunch, both non-existent now," he said.

Paswan, however, admits that the cost escalation would cross the figure of Rs 30 billion due to the delay, which includes around Rs 180 million of financing cost every month. The total financing cost has crossed Rs 6.5 billion including short-term loans of Rs 4 billion.

Paswan has, however, announced that the remaining stretch from Ratnagiri to Sawantwadi in Maharashtra would be commissioned by the month's end. It is at present awaiting a clearance from commissioner of railway safety.



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