Fact Check: Claim by Deccan Herald Article on Electrification is Wrong. It was 4,087 km, not 4.087 km!

It is one of several dubious claims made in an opinion piece in the Deccan Herald on the performance of the Railway Ministry under the current govt.

An opinion piece in the Deccan Herald made waves recently. One of the startling claims it makes is that the Indian Railways only electrified 4 kilometres of track in the year 2017-18.

Snippet from the Deccan Herald opinion piece published on 4th April 2019

The writers provide no data on the basis of which it claims that ‘the first three years were wasted’. But, since it is an opinion piece, we can ignore the remark and move on to the claim that had actual data supplied.

They claim that only 4.087 kilometres of route was electrified. The source of the data, according to the authors of the piece, is the response to an RTI query. We do not know what query was posted under RTI, nor do the authors supply the actual response from the RTI authorities in their piece.

This seemed especially odd since, as RailPost had reported earlier, IR had set a target of 6,125 km for the year 2018-19 and 10,319 km for 2019-20. The latter year’s figure included unfinished work from 2018-19.

However, others jumped on to the bandwagon without verifying anything. The National Herald wrote it up too. As did some twitter users:

Here are the facts:

The Indian Railways’ ‘Three Year Performance Report’ on Page 9 says this:

So did IR only manage to electrify 4 km out of its planned 4,000 km in 2017-18?

Let’s investigate. The Railway Electrification Map published by Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE), the key authority for electrification on IR, was last updated as of 31st March 2018. It says this:

Snippet from the Railway Electrification Map showing progress of electrification in figures.

In the map, CORE states that 4,087 route km of railway lines were electrified in 2017-18. Not 4.087 km, but 4,087 km.

CORE also put out an unfortunately timed Press Release on 1st of April 2019 saying this:

Here’s a tweet from CORE saying the same thing:

CORE says that 3,155 route kilometres were electrified on the Indian Railways in the financial year 2017-18. It goes on to state that 3,639 km of route was electrified in 2018-19.

The figure stated in the press release and tweet is different from the one in the Railway Electrification Map above. One possible reason is that the 3,155 km figure for 2017-18 in the tweet does not include works undertaken by other executing agencies such as RVNL, RITES or IRCON.

Perhaps the authors didn’t see the CORE press release or the tweet from 1st of April 2019 either. The opinion piece was published in Deccan Herald on the 4th of April 2019.

The 4.087 km figure quoted by the authors is clearly absurd and should’ve raised suspicions for anyone with any knowledge of railway projects, or had they even looked at data for the preceding years. It is likely that the officers responding to the RTI query made a mistake, and used a ‘.’ Instead of a ‘,’ but actually meant 4,087 km.

It is strange that the authors didn’t choose to look at figures for the previous years and, the next year, to verify if the info provided was correct.

We will soon examine some other claims made in that piece.

[The first version of this article inadvertently called the publisher Deccan Chronicle instead of Deccan Herald – We regret the error]

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About the Author: Alok Patel

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