RITES roped in to respond on SilverLine

Engg. consultancy will give detailed reply to NITI Aayog queries

Rail India Technical and Economic Service Limited (RITES), an engineering consultancy specialising in the field of transport infrastructure under the Ministry of Railways, has been tasked with responding to the National Institution for Transforming Indiaโ€™s (NITI Aayog) queries on the proposed SilverLine semi-high-speed rail in the State.

RITES was roped in to give a detailed reply to the queries raised by NITI Aayog after the government gave a 17-page reply regarding the 529.45-km project from Kochuveli to Kasaragod, estimated to cost โ‚น63,941 crore. RITES has commenced the work to prepare the reply as the project that will be executed on public private partnership (PPP) mode and is awaiting clearance of the Union government, official sources told The Hindu.

Low cost estimate

NITI Aayog had pointed out to the government that the project cost estimate was โ€˜quite visibly on the lower side.โ€™ After assessing the land rates in 50 villages in nine districts coming under the project, it was pointed out that the cost of land acquisition in the detailed project report prepared by Paris-based Systra and approved by the State was โ€˜underestimated.โ€™

Technical inconsistencies such as design criteria for structures, standard span, lack of maintenance walkway, service road, selection of at-grade structures, ballast track, track spacing, vertical clearance for RUBs, shifting of existing railway lines, and clarity on construction methodology were also pointed out by NITI Aayog.

Innovative revenue mechanisms to tap traffic, value added services, private sector participation and efficient exploitation of infrastructure and real estate had been mooted.

Even as RITES is preparing the response, the government is gearing up to acquire the land needed for laying the third and fourth railway lines by issuing official notification and to mobilise funds from financial institutions such as Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

New application

A meeting of the screening committee of Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) held on August 18 had rejected the assistance sought from ADB of โ‚น33,699.8 crore. A new application reducing the assistance sought would be submitted by the State through the DEA, sources said.

Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd. (K-Rail), the joint venture formed between Kerala and Railways to execute the project, is going ahead with the groundwork hoping that the approval will come through.

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