Thiruvananthapuram: The State government, which has set out to execute the SilverLine semi-high speed project costing Rs 63,940 crore, does not have even Rs 18.5 crore to pay for the construction of two railway overbridges.
Though funds were requested several times for the two bridges being constructed by K-Rail, which is the agency executing the SilverLine project, no funds have been released.
Since the deadline for awarding the tender has passed, K-Rail has obtained a four-month extension from the company that quoted the lowest amount. Unless the tender is awarded before the end of January, retendering may be required. In that case, the project estimate will also increase.
The government that blames the Centre and protesters for delaying the SilverLine project, cannot put the onus on anyone else in this case.
An amount of Rs 34.52 crore has been spent till now on SilverLine that has been put on hold. The government says it cannot spare even half of that amount for the two bridges.
The Centre and Kerala jointly formed the Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail) not to implement just the SilverLine project. The agency was established for executing the railway projects in Kerala. Railway overbridges also come under this definition. This is why the construction of 25 overbridges costing Rs 500 crore was entrusted to K-Rail. The Centre and the State will share the cost of the construction equally. It is the responsibility of the State government to foot the bill for the preliminary work. The Centre will release the funds in keeping with the progress of the work.
The Public Works Department is responsible for providing sanction for the project and releasing the funds with the concurrence of the Finance Ministry. It was the tendering process for the Thrissur Palli gate overbridge (Rs 22 crore) and Nilambur yard gate overbridge (Rs 15 crore), that was completed in March. The two tenders were won by the same construction company. According to the norms, once the tenders are opened and the contractor is chosen, the tender must be awarded within a period of six months.
Though K-Rail has written letters many times seeking release of funds, it was asked to wait as there was a financial crisis in the State. Meanwhile, the deadline for awarding the tender was crossed. Even the extended deadline will lapse next month.
The overbridge projects of Kakkanad gate, Thamarakkulam (Alappuzha), Idakulangara, Polayathode (Kollam), Mankara (Palakkad), Uppala, South Thrikkaripur (Kasaragod), Vellayil (Kozhikode), and Ezhimala (Kannur) are also ready for tendering.