IRCON rejects criticism that it inflated cost of Sri Lanka railway projects

Saturday, 8 November 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

IRCON International Ltd, a public sector enterprise under the Government of India, has rejected criticism that it has inflated the costs of the railway reconstruction projects in Sri Lanka. The company, a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways of the Indian Government, has completed the rehabilitation of nearly 200 km of railway tracks in the North, along with the installation of a signalling system at a cost of nearly a billion US dollars. However, All Ceylon Railway Employees General Union Secretary S.P. Vithanage and economist and former Secretary, Transport Ministry, Dr. T. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, had said that the Sri Lanka Railways would have done the work at one fourth the cost, Indian Express reported. IRCON Project Director S L Gupta has dismissed the contentions as “baseless and levelled by non-technical people”. “Any comparison of rehabilitation of the tsunami devastated tracks in South Sri Lanka undertaken by the IRCON and the Lankan railways is mischievous because the scope of work done by the two were not comparable,” Gupta was quoted by Express. “IRCON had to fully overhaul the damaged track over 112 km by removing the old track and rebuilding it with new material procured from India. A high quality track has been laid to give a qualitatively superior riding experience,” IRCON Project Director Gupta told Express. The official commenting on the projects in the North has said that the rehabilitation of the Omanthai-Kankasanthurai stretch was not merely patching up an existing track, but laying a completely new one. “Anyone travelling by train from Colombo to Jaffna will feel a marked difference between the stretch laid by IRCON from Omanthai to Jaffna, and the stretch laid by the Lankan railways from Colombo to Omanthai, including new track laid by the latter between Vavuniya and Omanthai, IROCN project director noted. IRCON’s estimates were as per global norms, Gupta said. The company has already completed the upgradation of Colombo- Matara coastal railway line under Indian line of credit, Reconstruction of Medawchchiya to Madhu Road Railway Line in Northern Province and Restoration of Northern Railway line from Omanthai to Jaffna. IRCON is currently working on timely completion of the remaining portion of the Northern Railway line. Work is going on simultaneously on the Thiruketheeswaram-Thalaimannar section and Jaffna-Kankasanthurai section, together with signalling and communications work.