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In a bid to ramp up coal availability, the Cabinet yesterday approved three new rail links, two in Chhattisgarh and one in Gujarat.
The projects approved include proposals to lay new lines between Gevra Road and Pendra Road, and Raigarh (Mand Coliery) and Bhupdeopur, all in Chhattisgarh. Doubling of the track between Palanpur and Samakhiali (247.73 km) in Gujarat has also been approved.
Officials said the 122-kilometre rail link between Gevra Road and Pendra Road and the 63-kilometre link from Raigarh to Bhupdeopur is part of an ambitious project by the coal and rail ministries to link the Mand-Raigarh coal fields of South Eastern Coalfields (SECL).
The anticipated project cost for all three is Rs 2,483 crore. The rate of return for all the projects range between 17 to 27 per cent.
Officials said the government is also planning to set up two other rail links to connect coalfields - one connecting North Karanpura coalfield in Jharkhand and the other one connecting the Ib valley field in Odisha.
The overall move is part of a bigger plan being implemented under the PMO’s strict watch to set up three rail lines, running 300 km across the three naxal-affected but coal- rich states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. The PMO has asked the coal, environment and rail ministries to complete the project in three years to free up 300 metric tonnes (MT) of coal supply.
The three projects have been under discussions since the past 15 years. These have been held up due to lack of green clearances and land acquisition issues in the respective states.