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Namkum rail line on central table

The fate of the long-pending Rs 900 crore Namkum-Kandra railway link lies in the hands of an inter-ministerial group comprising the Union railway and finance ministries and the Planning Commission.

This has come to the fore in an RTI reply filed by the Railway Board.

Responding to the RTI filed by Chotanagpur Passengers’ Association, the Railway Board revealed that its construction department officials had conducted a feasibility survey of the proposed railway link and submitted a report to the higher-ups about two years ago.

The proposal was then sent to the Planning Commission for in-principle approval.

“However, the commission returned the proposal in toto and recommended that it be discussed at the inter-ministerial group meetings,” read the RTI reply that came two weeks ago.

“The Railway Board has also revealed that the state government has agreed to share 50 per cent of the project cost,” said Arun Tiwari, general secretary of Chotanagpur Passengers’ Association that had filed the RTI application about a month-and-a-half ago.

The estimated cost of the project was pegged at Rs 900 crore when it was proposed five years ago.

The proposed line will shorten the rail distance between Ranchi with Jamshedpur by around 90km, running straight through Bundu and Tamar. At present, a 190km railway route connects the twin cities via Muri-Chandil.

It will also take about an hour-and-a-half to cover the 106km distance once the new tracks are laid. The present travel time is around three hours.

Many passenger outfits believe that the new link will not only bring Ranchi and Jamshedpur closer, but also improve communication among places like Bundu, Tamar and Jamshedpur.

“We believe that economic activities in Bundu and Tamar will boom. We have been pressing for this project for many years now,” said Ashok Nagpal, vice-president of Chotanagpur Passengers’ Association.