World Bank and Central Government on Saturday signed a USD 650-million loan agreement for the railway’s much hyped Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC).
"The project will benefit industries of Northern and Eastern India, which rely on railway network for transportation of material inputs and exports that would accelerate creation of jobs in the northern and eastern regions of the country," the World Bank said in a statement.
This the third loan agreement that the World Bank has signed for the Eastern Corridor, which is 1,840 km long and extends from Ludhiana to Kolkata.
The World Bank is supporting EDFC as a series of projects in which three sections with a total route length of 1,193 km will be delivered sequentially, but with considerable overlap in their construction schedules, the statement said.
EDFC 3, approved by the World Bank on June 30, 2016, will build the 401 km Ludhiana-Khurja section which goes through Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The first loan of USD 975 million for the 343 km Khurja-Kanpur section in the EDFC programme was approved by the World Bank in May 2011 and is already under implementation.
The second loan of USD 1.1 billion for the 402 km Kanpur-Mughalsarai section was approved by the Bank in April 2014 and is in the implementation phase. The World Bank noted that the major contracts for civil works and systems has been awarded with a total value of Rs 6,300 crore.
EDFC is part of India's first Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) initiative - being built on two main routes - the Western and the Eastern Corridors. The DFC lines are being built to carry bulk freight trains of 6,000 to 12,000 gross tons.
Noting that economic opportunities are also being explored along the freight corridor, the statement said the government is planning to set up integrated manufacturing clusters using EDFC as the backbone.
"These clusters will be set up with an investment of about USD 1 billion on either side of EDFC. The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 7-year grace period, and a maturity of 22 years," it said