KRC loss : Rs 1.5 cr per day !

| 04 October 1998 23:14 IST

Lukewarm response from trade and industry has run the three-year old prestigious Konkan railway into huge amount of losses, approximately over Rs 500 crore, which works out to around Rs 1.5 crore every day.

While the passenger traffic is picking up on the 1336 km-long route from Mumbai to Cochi, hardly any goods trains are running on this route all along the coastline, covering four states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala.

Railway minister Nitish Kumar's efforts to hold personal dialogue with the industrialists in the four states however seems to have been bearing fruits. One such meeting held in Goa on Saturday has thrown light on several problems, though the industry here feels it would take minimum 15 years to pick up cargo traffic on the coastal route.

Since industrial development is still taking shape in the coastal region, the railway minister is now planning to have a tie up of the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd with the South Central Railway to build a link to the hinterland, after which lot of existing traffic could be diverted on Konkan line, saving their time as well as money.

Among several other practical problems, the trade and industrial sector is also unable to cope up with the KRCL's schedule, states the railway minister. He is planning to sort out all the issues raised in the meeting with the Railway Board authorities, while next such meeting is scheduled in Karnataka.

B Rajaram, the KRCL CMD, while admitting unwarranted delays due to over 140 incidents of landslides during the monsoons, has however now assured to take all possible remedial measures to overcome the challenge of soft soil all along the coastal belt.

Projecting annual earnings of Rs 80 crore from passenger traffic alone, Nitish Kumar has also assured the Goa government to start tourism trains for a package tour of Goa, Bangalore, Mysore and Kerala, to boost the tourism industry in three states.

Goa chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza has to now respond to the offer of state government participation into it, after which the agreement would be signed between the Goa government, the KRCL and the SCR. He has also announced yet another Goa - Mumbai train, on the lines of Shatabdi Express shortly.

While the KRCL expects to reach a break-even point by 2008, the prestigious project worth Rs 3350 crore is also affected due to non-payment of equity shares by Goa (Rs 9.6 crore) and Maharashtra (Rs 36 crore). The amount of foreign loans has also shot up from Rs 409 crore to Rs 488 crore due to rupee devaluation.

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