Sunday, May 17, 2009

No steps taken to expedite completion of Harnaut workshop

PATNA: With the railways still maintaining a tardy progress, completion of the ambitious Coach Maintenance Workshop
project at Harnaut in
Nalanda district during the tenure of present railway minister Lalu Prasad has become impossible now.

President A P J Abdul Kalam had laid the foundation stone of the workshop at Harnaut at a cost of Rs 98 crore on June 30, 2003, when Nitish Kumar was the railway minister. The workshop was to be set up using the latest Japanese technology in a 76 acres plot at Harnaut. Till now no concrete steps have been taken to expedite completion of the project at Harnaut, sources said.

According to sources, the ECR has been sending passenger coaches to Lilluah in West Bengal and Gorakhpur in UP for their maintenance work. Delay in return of these coaches often causes shortage in the ECR. The periodical overhauling (POH) is mandatory for each coach after two years of its run in any mail or express train from safety point of view. The proposed Harnaut workshop would facilitate fast and timely POH of passenger coaches, sources said.

According to a Railway Board official, the railways have now revised the cost of Harnaut workshop from Rs 98 crore to Rs 225 crore as the sanctioned amount Rs 98 crore was not enough to complete the project. The railways have so far acquired 113 acres of land of which 76 acres is for workshop and 37 acres for staff quarters, he said, adding construction of the boundary wall of the proposed workshop has been completed.

A Railway Board official admitted that this project should have been completed by now as it was approved in 2003. The ECR having such a big jurisdiction and coach holding capacity, is in urgent need of coach maintenance workshop. With the introduction of LHB Rajdhani coaches on the Patna-New Delhi route, the coaches would require timely POH for ensuring full safety on tracks as well as to passengers, he said.

According to sources, the railways had awarded a contract of Rs 105 crore to Engineering Project India Ltd (EPIL) for installation of machinery plant to build a double stacked workshop at Harnaut. There was an approved plan to build 18 sheds of which three of them were to be readied by December 2008 and the rest of them was to be completed in August this year.

A Railway Board official maintained that this workshop would generate about Rs 180 crore annual turnover income giving a boost to socio-economic condition of the area. As many as 1,264 employees would work in the workshop and many ancillary factories would get support from this workshop, he said.

Source: Times of India