Guntur: The Nadikudi-Srikalahasti railway project is set to pick up pace following the Centre’s allocation for it in the recent budget. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, as part of the Budget 2021, announced the biggest outlay for the project over the last decade with an allocation of Rs 1,144 crore.
Poor allocation of funds was a major reason behind the project being delayed by nearly a decade with only 15% of work completed since its launch in 2009. Authorities have managed to complete only 46 kilometres of the 308-kilometre-long railway line. The Nadikudi-Srikalahasthi project is considered to be the biggest boon to underdeveloped upland areas of Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore and Chittoor districts.
The project, when initially granted by the Centre in 2009, was estimated to cost around Rs 2,400 crore. However, authorities are now worried the project cost may escalate by over 100% from the initial estimate and may touch Rs 5,000 crore by the time of completion.
According to South Central Railway (SCR) authorities, the track between Piduguralla and Savalyapuram in Guntur district was completed recently. The commissioner of railway safety (CRS) has conducted inspection and given the green signal to operate trains on the 46-kilometre-long stretch.
The new stretch will connect the existing railway line between Guntur and Secunderbad with another existing line between Guntur and Bangalore. While it is expected to help move goods traffic between Bangalore and Hyderabad within a shorter distance, the completion of of the line between Nadikudi and Srikalahasti is expected to draw big investors to the region.
Sources said the railway board had so far spent Rs 1,400 crore on the project and expects the state to share the equal burden as per the MoU signed while sanctioning of the project. However, the government had recently communicated to the Centre that it was not in a position to take the agreed upon 50% burden due to its financial troubles. The government had requested the Centre to complete the project with its own funds.
The state government had promised to complete the land acquisition with its funds and urged the Centre to convince the railway board to complete the project without seeking additional funds from the state.