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Railways to use land bank for freight corridor project

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways will use 24,000 acres from its land bank to support the dedicated freight corridor project, thereby ruling out the option of forcible acquisition of farm land, said railways minister Mamta Banerjee while addressing the economic editors’ conference in the capital.

“We are using our land bank for various railway projects including the dedicated freight corridor (DFC), and there is no need for forcible land acquisition ,” said Ms Banerjee, indicating her stand against the land acquisition bill. “It’s draconian, and against farmers’ interest,” she added.
In case the Railways acquire any land, it will be with the consent of the land owner and will come with adequate compensation including a job offer, the minister added.
The railways has a land bank of 1.13 lakh acres.
Ms Banerjee had skipped a recent meeting convened by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to sort out differences over the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007.
The railway minister, who has been against forcible land acquisition, had taken a tough stand on land acquisition for industrial projects at Nandigram and Singur in West Bengal.
The dedicated freight corridor project , which covers the western and the eastern stretch of the country, will augment container transport capacity to meet growing requirement of movement of freight traffic.
The work on the two stretches of the dedicated freight corridor — the eastern one running from Ludhiana to Dankuni and the western one from Navi Mumbai port to Tughlakhabad — has seen slow progress, leading to significant cost escalation and time overruns.
Estimated at Rs 49,624 by railway ministry, the corridor may eventually cost Rs 60,000 crore by 2016, when it is scheduled to be completed. The project was initially pegged at Rs 28,000 crore and has significantly jumped the initial cost estimate due to addition of new segments and time overruns.
The ministry is aiming to cut down its operating expenses to Rs 92,000 crore from Rs 95,000 crore for the year 2010-11 . The department has been hit hard due to multiple factors such as price hike, economic slowdown and the law and order situation, said the minister. She also added that the government would take steps to improve rail safety. “We will provide anti-collision device in every zone,” she said
Source - economic times

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