DIBRUGARH, July 11 – The goods yard at the sprawling New Dibrugarh Railway terminus at Banipur here is lying in a state of waste as the truck circulating area is yet to be constructed for more than two years now. A ‘traverser pit’ at the Dibrugarh Railway Workshop – one of India’s oldest – cannot be constructed even after 18 tender notices inviting bids, slowing down work and affecting productivity at the heritage workshop.
Both these two delays, among many others, are because the office of the Divisional Railway Manager (Works) at Tinsukia are repeatedly rejecting bids, citing high offer rates from contractors. A few inquiries revealed that the contractors are not offering higher rates, but the Railway engineers are insisting on rates that are ten per cent below the scheduled rates. The stalemate continues.
As a result, railway goods services cannot be carried out at the New Dibrugarh station. Instead, the goods yard at Tinsukia is used for goods services, though food items of the FCI are unloaded at the Dikom station near here. As the goods yard at New Dibrugarh remain non-operational, mega projects like the Assam Gas Cracker Project cannot unload their goods and materials here and are forced to do so from Tinsukia, entailing additional road carriage from Tinsukia to Dibrugarh. This not only entails additional spending of tax payers’ money, but also loss of time in the transit activity.
Similarly, hardware businessmen of the city are of the opinion that had the goods yard at New Dibrugarh been operationalised, prices of cement in the city would have come down by Rs 10 to 15 per bag.
The circulating area of the goods yard at the New Dibrugarh railway terminus here is chiefly to aid smooth movement of trucks for goods loading and unloading from train wagons. The area demarcated for this purpose at the station is calculated to be good enough for movement of 25 trucks at a time.
Several contractors this newspaper spoke to over the past few days said they cannot quote below schedule rates as doing so would push them out of business and force them into bankruptcy. They said they would rather work for the construction wing of the Railways where the rates and terms are better. Once Railway projects are constructed by the construction wing, these are handed over to the ‘open line’ section, where repairs and maintenance works are executed by respective divisional Railway managers and their establishments.
With no early signs of the Tinsukia-based DRM (Works) office to make the New Dibrugarh station fully operational, many also believe that a truckers’ lobby is working overtime to delay goods handling activity here. The logic is simple: if the work is kept delayed, the truck owners stand to gain in road transportation in the lucrative Dibrugarh-Tinsukia sector. The only regret is that even a Central Government department like the Railways is bowing to the notorious truck lobby. May be a competent inquiry will reveal more.