Monday 19 November 2018

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Infrastructure | Railways

Roha-Mangalore impossible before monsoons

 

The much-awaited Konkan railway will not be able to run from Roha to Mangalore before monsoons next year, much against the tall claims made by the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) authorities to fully commission it by January end.

While the realignment controversy is a dead issue in Goa for last two years, the KRCL has also overcome the financial crisis with Bank of America agreeing to finance $ 70 million, in agreement with the State Bank of India.

The project worth Rs 2784.30 crore has also received a shot in the arm with union finance ministry permitting the KRCL to raise Rs 200 crore through 10.5 per cent tax-free bonds. The issue would be opened on November 26.

Though this would meet the financial requirements, the technical hurdles caused along the existing alignment (which was not changed despite state-wide agitation) would delay the completion work. The major problem is the soft soil found while digging some tunnels and the sinking embankments in the marshy land.

Sources in the KRCL here disclosed that they have succeeded in digging through three tunnels of Loliem and Padi in southernmost Canacona taluka and Verna, located centrally along the 105-km route passing through Goa, after struggling with the soft soil for last four years. The total distance was hardly three kms.

But the actual tunnelling work still remains in around 2 km-long Padi tunnel and 800 mt-long Verna tunnel. As work has restarted in the tunnels only since last month after monsoons, the KRCL engineers hope to complete it by January end.

The 500-mt long Old Goa tunnel has been a real headache for the authorities as 100 mts of digging still remains to be completed even after fighting with the soil for last four and a half years. Similar is the case of northernmost 1.8 km-long Pedne tunnel, where 390 mts is still left after five years of hard work.

Precisely this is the reason why the KRCL is believed to have been planning to commission the line only upto Old Goa from southwards, if possible by March next year. The railway line from Mangalore to Kundapur, a distance of 107 kms, is already in operation.

After throwing open for traffic 130 kms of line from Roha to Chiplun few months ago, another 96 kms from Chiplun to Ratnagiri would be made operational by next week, followed by the line upto Sawantwadi by December end. But trains would be unable to cross Goa border due to the problematic tunnel in Pedne.

Meanwhile, the adamancy of the KRCL authorities cost around 400 mt-long bridges in Cortalim, where the embankments started sinking repeatedly. These small bridges in the marshy land are not expected to be completed before December.

E Sreedharan, the CMD of KRCL, however announced once again in Goa last month that the line would be fully commissioned by January end. He has presently fully concentrated on Goa, visiting the state twice a month, to personally monitor the work.






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