Train route plot price hurdle

The Indian Railways on Thursday told Patna High Court that the price the Bihar government was giving to it for land on which the Patna-Digha Ghat DMU train now runs was insufficient and hence not acceptable.

By Nishant Sinha in Patna
  • Published 19.01.18
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Patna: The Indian Railways on Thursday told Patna High Court that the price the Bihar government was giving to it for land on which the Patna-Digha Ghat DMU train now runs was insufficient and hence not acceptable.

The same was conveyed by the railways to the high court bench comprising Justice Dr Ravi Ranjan and Justice Prakash Chandra Jaiswal in an affidavit filed by it.

The bench had on Wednesday summoned Patna district magistrate (DM) Kumar Ravi, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Patna Manu Maharaaj, divisional railway manager, East Central Railway (ECR), Danapur, and the principal secretary, road construction department, to apprise the court on the viability of running Patna-Digha Ghat DMU train inspite of railways incurring a huge loss for running this section.

The railways stated in its affidavit: "We are ready to close this train as the maintenance cost of Patna-Digha Section per month is Rs 6,07,200, whereas the income is merely Rs 7,800 a month. It means the railways are incurring a loss of about Rs 6 lakh per month for running this section."

At this juncture, Bihar's advocate-general (AG) Lalit Kishore suggested to the court that closing down this train completely would further increase encroachments on the rail route, a suggestion the bench accepted. It said: "The Railways should explore the possibility of reducing the frequency of the train journey. It should try to bring it down to bi-weekly or tri-weekly." The judges then gave railways four weeks' time to reply.

On the transfer of ownership of land to the Bihar government by the railways, the affidavit filed by the railways on Thursday said meetings have been held in this regard by both parties but nothing concrete has come out of it.

The railways told the court that the price the Bihar government was willing to pay it in lieu of land was not acceptable. The railways accepted that both parties are interested in the deal as it said: "There is no dispute as far as change in ownership of land is concerned. We want to sell the land and the state government wants to buy it, but the price offered is not acceptable."

The bench then directed both the railways and the state government to consider it once again and apprise it of its decision in four weeks.

The court also directed Patna DM Kumar Ravi and SSP Maharaaj to submit a report stating the nature of encroachment on the route along with the areas where encroachment exists and who the encroachers are. The court has taken the matter suo motu.

The Bihar government wants to construct a ring road covering the entire stretch on which the Patna-Digha DMU train runs to ease traffic.

The Patna-Digha Ghat DMU train runs at 20kmph, crossing places like Hartali Mor, Rajiv Nagar, Shivpuri, Punaichak, Secretariat and R-Block in the morning and evening, leaving commuters stranded during peak hours.

The train always runs nearl empty. The few people who ride it do so without buying the required Rs 10 ticket. And they have no reason to fear as there are no official ticket-checkers on the train. The train halts several times on its near-10km route as cattle graze on the tracks.

Though the train was first started in 1862, it was discontinued for several decades until then railway minister Lalu Prasad restarted it in 2004.