Goyal bats for rail network upgradation in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Targeting evacuation of 300 million tonnes of coal per annum from Talcher, the Centre today sought the state government’s support for upgradation of railway network in the region.

A special purpose vehicle (SPV) — Mahanadi Coal Railway — has been incorporated for the purpose.

“We have placed a proposal before the Odisha government to support the Centre’s efforts to upgrade railway network in Talcher area so that the volume of coal evacuation is enhanced from the present 75 million tonnes to 300 million tonnes in coming days,” Union Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here.

Noting that expansion of railway network in Talcher area is essential for development of the country, Goyal said the state will immensely benefit from the project.

“The state will earn as much as Rs 1,000 crore per annum after upgradation of railway network in Talcher,” he said,adding that the government has assured “full support”.

Meanwhile, Mahanadi Coalfield (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India, recently partnered with IRCON International and state-owned IDCO (Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation) and set up Mahanadi Coal Railway to develop the rail infrastructure in the state.

MCL, IRCON and IDCO will have equity ratio of 64:26:10 in the joint venture, MCL officials said, adding one of the foremost tasks before the new company is to develop 14 km of Angul-Balram rail link in the initial phase, which could transport 92 million tonnes of coal.

In due course, this rail link will complete the Angul- Balram-Talcher-Angul loop to facilitate uni-directional movement of wagons.

“The SPV will not only cater to the current evacuation need of the company, but will also identify the evacuation constraints of MCL and accordingly will implement the plan,” the officials said.

In the second phase, the company is expected to take up Jharsuguda-Barpali-Serdega Rail link, which will enable Basundhara Coalfield to produce 85 mt compared with its production of only 10 mt. Both the rail projects are considered very critical for MCL for achieving its higher growth potential.

MCL, which in 2014-15 produced 121 mt of coal, has planned to produce 250 mt by 2019-20. Improved coal evacuation in future through this SPV will help close the gap between demand and supply of coal.