Tatas, L

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) Two companies -- Tatas and Larsen and Toubro -- have been shortlisted for the setting up of the Rail Wheel Factory at Chhapra in Bihar, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad announced here today.

Mr Prasad had announced the setting up of the wheel factory during his presentation of the Railway Budget, 2007-08 in Parliament in February.

The minister said the factory would be built on the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model.

''We have shortlisted the two companies and a final decision in this regard would be taken soon,'' he said, inaugurating the Foundation Day programme of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).

The minister, however, did not elaborate on the investment and the timeframe for the implementation of the project.

Mr Prasad said he was opposed to the reckless privatisation of the Railways, but certain projects like Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and construction of model stations would involve participation of private players.

About the Rs 30,000 crore Dedicated Freight Corridors (eastern and western corridors), he said his ministry had received the final report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA), and the Japanese government had offered liberal assistance in the execution of the project.

He also announced that the Eastern freight corridor -- from Ludhiana to Kolkata -- would connect all the important ports, including Haldia Port, on the route while the Delhi-Mumbai western corridor would serve the proposed ambitious industrial corridor involving half a dozen states.

Mr Prasad said speedy development of infrastrcture projects was imperative to realise the goal of high growth rate of the economy and creation of employment opportunities.

''We have to learn from China which now boasts of world class infrastructure and a very efficient railway network,'' he said.

Mr Prasad said he would visit China soon to apprise himself of the functioning of the railway system there.

On the Bullet train, Mr Prasad said he was not opposed to the idea per se, but he listed practical problems and political impediments in the execution of a high-cost project like this.

''Even the piecemeal implementation of the project -- running of bullets trains on a city to city basis -- will encounter a number of problems like fencing of tracks and signalling equipment,'' he said.

The minister also talked about the likely demand from parliamentarians and legislators who would demand stoppage of such a train passing through their areas.

UNI

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