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With a massive gap between availability and requirement of funds for execution of announced projects, the Railways currently need Rs 5 lakh crore for next 10 years to complete the ongoing works.
Taking a critical view of the unchecked projects announcements made by successive governments, Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda today said there has been a focus on sanctioning projects rather than completing them.
"In the last 30 years, as many as 676 projects were sanctioned worth Rs 1,57,883 crore. Of these, only 317 projects could be completed and 359 projects remain to be completed which will now require as much as Rs 1,82,000 crores," Gowda said while presenting the rail budget 2014-15.
In the last 10 years, 99 new line projects worth Rs 60,000 crore were sanctioned, out of which only one project is complete till date.
"In fact, there are 4 projects that are as old as 30 years but are still not complete for one reason or another. The more projects we add, the thinner we spread our resources and longer it takes to complete them," he said.
Sounding a note of caution, Gowda said that if this trend is allowed to continue, many more thousands of crore will get spent, yielding hardly any returns.
He further said investment in doubling and tripling to decongest the over-utilised network brings money to railways. On the other hand, construction of new lines most of the time do not even meet operational cost as there is no commensurate demand.
In the last 10 years, railways made an investment of over Rs 41,000 crore in laying 3738 km of new lines. On the other hand, it spent only about Rs 18,400 crore for doubling of 5050 km though it was a priority for the health of the system.
Railways need Rs 9 lakh crore to complete the Golden Quadrilateral network and about Rs 60,000 crore for introducing bullet trains alone.