The pace of the South Western Railway’s (SWR) double-tracking project in Goa has slowed down on account of the reverse migration of labourers engaged in the work following the curfew imposed in the state.
Sources in the Indian Railways said that as most of the labourers involved in the construction work are migrants, their return to their native places has adversely impacted the progress of the double tracking project. Nevertheless, the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) has almost completed laying the second track between Margao and Sanvordem, and that a trial run on the second track on this stretch will be conducted soon.
Work on certain stretches between Margao and Vasco has been grounded owing to the stiff opposition from the locals. The report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommending to the Supreme Court cancellation of the double tracking project, has added ammunition to the opponents of the project though the opposition brigade has been lying low, probably on account of the pandemic surge and the curfew.
The CEC, in its report submitted to the court on April 23, has termed the project as “inefficient”, “unjustified” and “potentially destructive” even as it has raised concerns about the threat to the biodiversity hotspot of Mollem, and pointed to the failure of the Railways in utilising most of the existing capacity of the single railway track.
The RVNL has completed construction of the six underpasses along the Goa stretch of the double tracking project; one each in Curchorem, Chandor, Kamral, Sao Jose de Areal and two in Dhadem near Sanvordem.
Most of the underpasses have been constructed in a bid to enable smooth passage of traffic once the level crossings along this route are eliminated. The RVNL has now undertaken the task of installing rubberised pad surface at level crossings with a view to providing a smooth surface at the rail-road intersection at level crossings. While the work of installing the rubberized pad surface at Sao Jose de Areal level crossing was been completed, the work at Chandor is underway.
The technique involves joining the rail and road interfaces by rubber pads making a flexible smooth vehicular road surface on the rail track. The rubber panels, which replace bitumen or concrete roads, are placed atop the concrete sleepers on the railway tracks. As bitumen and concrete roads entail high maintenance costs, concrete blocks were being used as an alternative. However, they were found to get disintegrated by continuous traffic load, thus leading to accidents at the crossings.