Not happy over the way the Kashmir rail link project is being executed, a parliamentary panel has expressed serious concern over losses of more than Rs 3,200 crore due to various factors like bad planning, inadequate surveys and delayed decisions by Railways.
Public Accounts Committee in its latest report noted with displeasure that the general planning failure on the part of Railways has contributed to a loss of Rs 3258.92 crore as on 2010.
On the delay in project execution and cost escalation, the 22-member committee headed by K V Thomas noted that the initial project was estimated at Rs 1500 crore in 1994-95 which was revised to Rs 3077.23 crore in 1989 and further revised to Rs 9341.44 crore in 2010. As of September, 2013, the estimate has touched Rs 20,000 crore based on the rates of 2010.
The PAC report submitted in Parliament on Tuesday suggested that effective advance measures should be taken in cost estimation of similar challenging projects in future.
On the delay, it noted that Railways decided in July 2008 to suspend the work in some sections until a final decision on alignment was taken.
It was found that by that time an expenditure of about Rs 1791 crore had already been incurred and about 13.18 km of tunneling done in the Katra-Banihal section of the Kashmir rail link project. Besides a total length of about 1.8 km of already constructed tunnels that collapsed was abandoned in the Katra-Banihal section.
Moreover, an amount of Rs 61.39 crore was paid towards idling of men and machinery as the work remained suspended for 14 months.
All these are pointers towards deficient planning, inadequate surveys and belated decisions, the report said.
The committee refused to buy the ministry's argument that sometimes mid-course corrections become inevitable and difficulties encountered cannot be apprehended in advance.
The PAC said it was of the firm view that the problems could not be foreseen because of lack of initial surveys, studies and planning, despite the ministry's justifications to the contrary.