The Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway on Tuesday clarified that the works at Jiri-Imphal railway project was delayed on account of contractors not deploying adequate resources.
In a letter to the Imphal Free Press, chief engineer CON-VII NF Railway Maligaon Sandeep Sharma stated that penal action as per terms of contract is being taken to expedite the progress.
Based on inputs from sources, the Imphal Free Press carried a news report on June 4 with a headline 'Jiribam-Imphal Railway project work comes to near standstill'. In response to the report, NF Railway stated that the project is being monitored on a regular basis by its construction officers, and the Railway Board is also monitoring progress of the project on a monthly basis.
NF Railway added that a committee under the chairmanship of additional chief secretary (Transport), Manipur has been constituted in November 2020 to monitor progress and resolve issues related to the state government. The committee meets more or less on a weekly basis, it stated.
In addition, the chief secretary, Manipur has also been personally reviewing the progress regularly since December 2020, which has helped in resolving the issues related to the state government, it added.
In the letter, the chief engineer also clarified that no price variation bill payments are pending. Instead, 28 number bills on account of price variation amounting to Rs 47 Crore in the last six months have been paid to various agencies as per laid down procedure, it added.
Similarly, GST neutralisation bills amounting to more than Rs 1.95 Crore have been paid to the agencies in the last six months, the letter added.
Further the letter stated that the Jiribam-Imphal project has a length of 110 km and the section from Jiribam to Vangaichungpo (12 Km) has already been commissioned in March, 2017.
In the remaining 99 Km project length, the works are already completed in a length of about 44 Km except for track works, which are held up on account of stay on track linking by the High Court of Guwahati, it added.
“After the stay is vacated, the section from Vangaichungpo to Khongsang can be commissioned for public use, after completing track works. In the remaining section of about 55 km (Khongsang to Imphal), almost 80 percent of the civil works are completed. To balance the civil works in the section, more than 20 agencies are working at about 60 different locations,” the letter stated.
It continued that financial progress of Rs 899.76 crore has been achieved on the Jiribam-Imphal project during the financial year 2020-21 as against initial Budget Allotment of Rs 800 Crore.
The expenditure is the highest expenditure on any single project in NF Railway during 2020-21. Further, during April 2021 and May 2021, progress of Rs. 88.64 crores and Rs 65.93 crores has been made respectively on the various ongoing works of the project, it stated.
As per the letter, the commissioning of the Jiribam-Imphal section has been planned in four phases and that the Phase-I from Jiribam to VNGP (11.8 Km) has already been commissioned in March, 2017.
“The phase-l from VNGP to Khongsang (44 Km) is targeted for opening within eight months of vacation of stay on track linking works by the High Court of Guwahati. Phase-Ill and Phase-IV from Khongsang to Tupul (29 Km) and Tupul to Imphal (26 km) are targeted for opening by Nov 2022 and Dec 2023 respectively,” it stated.
About 60 per cent of the works of Bridge No 164 at Noney, having 703 M total length and 141 M pier height, are completed, it further stated, adding however, the firm deployed for the bridge was not able to deploy resources in spite of more than 20 meetings with NF Railway senior officers.
As such, the contract was terminated in April 2021 and a new tender is likely to be awarded by July 2021, it added.
The letter further mentioned that approximately 62 per cent out of the project length of 110 Km is under tunnels, where no cutting of vegetation is required. “Even, in the remaining stretch, only minimum vegetation like grass/ shrubs has been cleared along the project line. However, efforts have been made to ensure that the projects cause least disturbance to the environment,” added the letter.
Further it clarified that the road travel distance between Jiribam and Imphal along the NH-37 is about 200 Km and not 75 Km and it takes about eight to nine hours to travel by road from Jiribam to Imphal. The same distance can be covered by train in a span of less than two hours, once the Railway line is commissioned, the letter added.