Ministry of Railways included 77 doubling, 4 new line and 1 gauge conversion project in Railway Budget 2015-16. The projects were included primarily with a viewpoint to create additional carrying capacity. Fast tracking of these projects was need of the hour so as to reap benefits of the projects as soon as possible. Under direction of Minister of Railways Shri. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, a number of measures have been under taken for expeditious execution of these projects:
(i) So far the practice was to include a project in railway budget and send for ‘In Principle Approval’ (IPA) of NITI Aayog, hold meetings of Extended Board of Railways and finally seek approval of Cabinet (CCEA). Once Cabinet approval is available, Railways used to go for Final Location Survey and subsequent preparation of Detailed Estimate. An expenditure can be incurred only after Detailed Estimate or part thereof has been sanctioned. This process used to take 2-3 years, which means tenders can be called roughly after 2 years of inclusion in Railway Budget.
(ii) To reduce this time gap of two years, Ministry Railways asked zonal railways to carry out Final Location Survey immediately after inclusion of the work in Railway Budget. After Final Location Survey, the zonal railways were asked to send Detailed Project Report (DPR) to Railway Board with a reasonably firm cost. Out of 77 doubling projects sanctioned in this year, detailed project reports of 73 doubling projects has been prepared and received in Railway Board.
(iii) Examination and scrutiny of DPR in Railway Ministry has been fast tracked by forming committee of concerned officers for this purpose instead of examination from table to table by individual officer.
(iv) Request for ‘In Principle Approval’ (IPA) of NITI Aayog is being sent after DPR is examined in Railway Board. As many as 15 IPA have been received from NITI Aayog. Out of these 15 IPAs, 4 projects which cost more than Rs.1000 cr. are being sent to CCEA for approval.
(v) Zonal Railways have been advised to call tenders immediately after IPA is received. However, a financial commitment can be made only after all requisite approvals are in place.
(vi) To obviate delays further, Railways are now being advised to invite tenders immediately after a DPR is sent to NITI Aayog for IPA without waiting for approval.
(vii) This has effectively reduced tender calling period from 2 years after inclusion of a project in Pink Book to 6-9 months.
(viii) In addition to this, zonal railways have been given more powers to sanction detailed estimates so as to reduce delays in such sanctions.
(ix) Power for accepting all tenders have now been delegated to zonal railways which results into overcoming delays on this account.