Seeking to reduce its dependence on conventional sources of energy, the Indian Railways is looking to make use of solar power in a big way and is likely to include a plan for this in the upcoming budget.
Railways Minister Sadanand Gowda is likely to reveal the blueprint for setting up solar grids of photovoltaic cells for power generation in his maiden Rail Budget 201314 on July 8.
Looking out for ways to develop an alternative fuel for the national transporter, it is likely that the Rail Budget could also spell out a plan for LNG and ethanolbased diesel locomotives.
According to a senior official, the promotion of renewable energy has been one of the main agendas of the Narendra Modi-led Government and the same would be amply reflected in its first Rail Budget.
As specified, the rooftops of railway platforms, buildings, colonies, workshops and barren land would be put to use for generation of solar power across the country.
The official also stated that it was their aim to put in serious efforts to develop alternative arrangements for reducing their dependence on high-cost fuel, and the launch of major solar-powered projects was a step in that direction.
Currently, the annual fuel expenditure of the railways stands at Rs 28,000 crore, of which the electricity costs around Rs 10,000 crore.
The latest fiscal position states that nearly 30.3 percent of the revenue expenditure of the railways is on fuel, of which 20.5 percent is spent on diesel and 9.8 percent on electricity.
Out of the total rail network length of 65,436 route km, about 31 percent or 24,891 km is electrified.
Expansion of its electrified route is being undertaken by the railways. As per the 12th Plan, 1,300-km stretch of tracks is to be taken up every year for electrification. Cory Joseph Jersey