NEW DELHI: With Assembly elections in Bihar around the corner, all big railway projects in the state have been put on the fasttrack. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally keeping track of the progress of the projects that include two mega-bridges and two locomotive factories.
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told ET that Modi reviewed the projects during the May 27 interaction of Pragati, the multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. He asked Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to expedite the implementation of all big projects so that state leaders have something to talk about in the run-up to the elections.
The people quoted earlier said the railways have kept pace with the PM’s wishes, having allocated much higher funds for the projects as compared with the last decade of the UPA government.
The projects on the PM’s review radar are the two major rail-cumroad bridges on Ganga—one at Digha, in Patna, and the other in Munger. The implementation of the long-stalled Madhepura electric loco plant and the Marhaura diesel loco plant has been accelerated with the projects been chosen for execution using foreign direct investment ( FDI).
Among the first big-ticket projects to be pushed under the PM’s “Make in India” campaign, each state-of-the-art locomotive plant is estimated to cost Rs 1,200 crore. “The directions are to have things in place before the state elections. The financial bid for both will be opened on August 31,” said a senior railway official.
While Alstom, Siemens, GE and Bombardier have been shortlisted for the proposed factory at Madhepura, GE and EMD are vying to bag the contract for the diesel locomotive plant at Marhaura. As per the contract conditions, the railways will have 26% equity in the plants and the rest will be held by the foreign firms.
The PMO official said that while Modi was focused on overall infrastructure development, railway projects were specifically significant in context of Bihar.
“BJP is faced with two formidable foes in Bihar—Lalu and Nitish—both of whom have been relatively influential railway ministers, having announced a whole slew of projects for the state. However, many of the projects never really took off because of lack of commitment,” the official said.
Courtesy: ET Bureau