Fulfillment of dream on track

Media Coverage | 28-02-2024

The cornerstone of the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway line was unveiled on February 11, 2009 by remote control. (Left to right) Present on the occasion, former minister Rajendra Darda, former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda, Ashish Deshmukh, former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and former chief minister Ashok Chavan.

Shantanu Doiphode

senior journalist and secretary, Nanded District Railway Council

The percentage of farmer suicide in Marathwada and Vidarbha is high. One of the important reasons is the lack of a market for the produce of farmers. If the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway route is completed, a countrywide market will be available for the agricultural produce in Vidarbha and Marathwada. Therefore, this railway can be a way to prosperity for the farmers of Vidarbha-Marathwada. The railway ministry has now given the nod to the new Nanded-Bidar railway route. Once this route is completed, the manufacturers in Vidarbha and Marathwada will be able to turn to the markets in South xIndia.

The second important demand in Marathwada is the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway route. Chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media Group and former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda took up this demand with the railway minister when he became a member of Rajya Sabha. Finally, this project was approved in the railway budget of 2008-09.

This work started at snail’s pace like other projects. A condition of the State government taking up 50 per cent share of the project cost was laid as the return of investment on this route is low. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan accepted the demand of railway minister and launched this project. Although the support from Marathwada was also needed to this demand, the credit of this railway project should be given to former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda, former chief minister Ashokrao Chavan and former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The Nanded-Bidar railway route was approved in 2008. But no land acquisition was made for 8 years. The work started in real sense when Suresh Prabhu took over the reins of railway ministry in 2016. This project is being done in partnership with Central and State governments. Coincidentally, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government came to power and it gave its share in form of funds from time to time.

Since 2016, this project has received funding in ascending order. Maximum `950 crore was given in the railway budget of 2023-24 last year. This year’s 2024-25’s budget has given `750 crore. Now, work has started from Nanded also which needs to be stepped up. This railway project will help Ardhapur and Hadgaon tehsils in Nanded district, Pusad, Umarkhed, Digras, Darwha and Kalamb tehsils in Yavatmal district and Deoli tehsil in Wardha district. The project can be completed soon if the work from the Nanded side is stepped up.

Late Govindbhai Shroff, Sudhakarrao Doiphode along with pro-development people and organisations in Marathwada launched a major struggle for issues related to railway. As a result, after four decades the meter gauge route was converted into broad gauge route. However, not even 1 km long railway track was laid in Marathwada during 50 years post independence. There were demands of a new railway route to bring districts like Beed, Osmanabad and Latur apart from Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad), Jalna, Parbhani and Nanded in the main stream of railway. The demand Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli was also made. This project was approved after many years. The work of this project has gained momentum in the last 2-3 years.


distance to go down

n The electrification of 284-km-long Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project will be done immediately as per new rule of railways. The electrification work has also started. This railway route will reduce the Nanded-Nagpur distance by around 97 km.

n Not only for Nanded, the distance from Sambhajinagar and Jalna to Nagpur will also be reduced by 75 kms. The distance between Solapur and North-East India, too, will be reduced by around 80 km.

n There will be alternate railway routes available to travel to the north. If the 103 kms new railway line between Nanded and Latur Road is approved as the next phase of this project, the entire Latur Road-Nanded-Wardha railway line can also be of national importance. This route will reduce the Pune-Nagpur distance by 80 kms, Goa, Kolhapur and Belgaum to Nagpur distance by 150 kms and distance from Badami, Vijaypur, Solapur and Tuljapur to Nagpur by 220 kms. Efforts to be made to get Nanded-Latur Road approved.

Thanks to Dr Vijay Darda

Former member of Rajya Sabha and Indian Railways played an important role to get work of Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project started. The works of this project in Vidarbha will be completed soon. We thank Dr Vijay Darda on behalf of Nanded District Railway Council and express hope that he will be with us while doing follow up in future.

Blot of backwardness to go

The Yavatmal district is known as farmer suicide affected district as well as tribal dominated district also. The Yavatmal district was miles away from development due to lack of railway. Now, this project is nearing completion. The blot of backwardness of the district will certainly go away due to it. Along with Dr Vijay Darda, the District Development Forum also played an important role for the completion of this project at that time. This issue was raised before former chief minister Sudhakarrao Naik as well as former guardian minister Jawaharlalji Darda also. After becoming a member of Rajya Sabha, Dr Vijay Darda pursued this issue and today the project seems to be on track. This project will take undeveloped area forward. This project will boost development works and industries in this region.

– Shivajirao Moghe, former minister

Insistence of Sobhagmalji Darda during British era

Dr Vijay Darda’s great grandfather Sobhagmalji Darda was known as cotton king at that time. He had been instrumental in weaving the railway network in Vidarbha.

Sobhagmalji, who was known as a cotton merchant, had great influence in Mumbai at that time. With foresight, he insisted to British firm Killick, Nixon and Company at that time to bring railways to this area.

Wardha, Hinganghat, Arvi, Wani, Yavatmal, Dhamangaon, Badnera, Akola and Khamgaon were major markets of cotton in Vidarbha. Huge quantity of cotton was collected from this belt. He was of the opinion that this cotton can get proper price in Mumbai only and railway is necessary to transport this cotton to Mumbai. He said that this train can be taken to Murtizapur and then connected to the main line and from there cotton can be transported to Manchester in England by ship after it reaches Mumbai. Accordingly, Britishers started two railway routes of 149 km in Yavatmal district later.

An 84.71 kms route was made in Wani tehsil to transport minerals and 113 kms narrow gauge route between Yavatmal and Murtizapur to transport cotton from the district. The train running on this route was known as Shakuntala. This train used to go up to Achalpur. This helped in the development of the large scale cotton textile industry in Achalpur.

Nagpur Metro should be extended upto Yavatmal

According to Union minister for surface transport Nitin Gadkari, Nagpur Metro should be connected to surrounding towns. There is no broad gauge metro in the country. If Nagpur Metro is extended and brought up to Yavatmal, there will be a new era of development in this region. The Metro will cut down travel time between Yavatmal and Nagpur. The accidents will also  reduce. Apart from this, traders, employees, white-collar workers and representatives of corporate companies in this area can also benefit from this. Increasing connectivity of small areas will lead to development.

Project important for Yavatmal

The Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded project is the first major railway route in the history of the district. Ghulam Nabi Azad initiated this project. Later, Dr Vijay Darda raised this issue in the Parliament. Lalu Prasad Yadav was railway minister at that time. The bhoomipujan of this route was performed by him in Yavatmal. When I was deputy chairman of Legislative Council, I tried to put this project on the fast track so that the work on this project could gain speed. A meeting was also held in this regard in 2016. The later railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge provided funds. Dr Vijay Darda has a lion’s share in completion of this project. Pohradevi is a religious place on this railway line. Community members from all over the country visit this place. For the area through which this railway line is going to pass, this development is going to be necessary.

– Manikrao Thakre, former minister, Yavatmal

A strong step towards development

What is the difference between a school teacher and railway station master? The famous reply to this is ‘School master trains the mind and station master minds the train’. This means that school teachers develop minds and the railway station master directs the trains. Alert, a train is coming to Yavatmal. The 284-km long Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded project is going towards completion upto Yavatmal at Shakuntala’s pace. Something new is happening in Yavatmal. Happening after 15 years is a happy moment.

Principal Dr Uday Nawalekar Parwekar College, Yavatmal

Once Elon Musk in America was stuck in a traffic jam and he decided at that time to start a high-speed subway train. A boring company was formed and a train running at a speed of 150 kms was started on the subway in two years. The roads in India are devloping like the ones in America. But this cannot be said about railways.

The Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded project launched in 2009 is 284-km-long broad gauge project completing one phase after 15 years. Overall, the Wardha-Yavatmal railway is on way to start and the prime minister’s visit will speed up the rest of the project. But the Kalamb railway station is 4 kms away from Kalamb and Yavatmal station is also out of Yavatmal. Therefore, the cost of an autorickshaw is likely to be higher than the train ticket. Therefore, an attempt should be made to bring the station closer to the town for the convenience of passengers during the next station construction. Railways need to pay attention to this.

Yavatmal district to get benefited the most

The maximum benefit of Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded project will be to Yavatmal district. This new railway line will facilitate transportation of agricultural commodities like cotton, tur, soyabean, jowar, wheat and fertilizers, cement and other commodities. It will take another five years to realise the impact on the economy with the opening of the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway line. However, economic development will increase due to railways. Railway is the most affordable and sometimes the fastest mode of transportation for transporting people and goods. It is expected that the Yavatmal-Nanded phase will also be completed soon due to the initiative of all people’s representatives. The Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded track is starting, which is certainly a matter of happiness.

‘From not possible, not feasible to Ok done’

After the announcement of the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project, the issue of funding from the Central and State governments had arisen. Dr Vijay Darda took initiative at that timne. He went to Delhi along with former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. A meeting with former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was held there. The journey of this meeting started from ‘Not possible, not feasible’ and went to ‘Ok, done’ and work of this railway project got a boost in real sense.

Vishal Sontakke Deputy news editor, Lokmat

Former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh was not ready for the 50-50 per cent partnership of Central and State governments due to bad economic condition of this state. He was in favour of maximum 25 to 30 per cent share. In a meeting with Lalu Prasad Yadav, Dr Vijay Darda raised this issue and demanded the railway minister to fix this ratio as 75-25 as a special case. Yadav called former deputy chairman of Planning Commission (now Niti Ayog) Montek Singh Ahluwalia and said that Maharashtra should take up 25 per cent share and Centre 75 per cent. But Ahluwalia  said that this ratio of funds was not possible and feasible also. Lalu Prasad said that he would talk to the Prime Minister about this issue. Discussion was held for a lot of time from both sides. Finally, Ahluwalia said that he can propose 60-40 as a special case. If a proposal is made less than that, it will have to be placed in the Planning Commission meeting and as there is a possibility of similar demand for other projects, the proposal is unlikely to be approved, he said. On this, Lalu Prasad Yadav, asked Dr Darda and Vilasrao Deshmukh whether to finalise the proposal of 60-40. CM Deshmukh showed a positive attitude and finalised the formula of 60-40 per cent with the mediation of Dr Vijay Darda in this meeting. Railway Board’s chairman J N Batra was also present in the meeting. This proposal was later approved in the budget.

Later, Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnav also took a positive stand and boosted this project. The then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis contributed to the project by providing most of the funds as Maharashtra’s share. Not only this, a special war room was created and the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded project was included in it to speed up this work. After that CM Eknath Shinde and DyCM Devendra Fadnavis periodically reviewed the progress of the work from this special war room.

Chief secretary of State Manoj Saunik, additional secretary of CMO Bhushan Gagrani and principal secretary of deputy chief minister Shrikar Pardeshi are also keeping watch on the progress of this work.


 1998 Dr Vijay Darda put forward the demand of Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project for the first time after entering Parliament as member of Rajya Sabha. Gave a word to people of Yavatmal to get rail services started from here during felicitation event held at Yavatmal after session.

2005 Dr Vijay Darda wrote a letter to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh and put forth a demand for the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project. Sonia Gandhi also wrote to then railway minister.

2007 Announcement of approval to 270-km long Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project in the railway budget presented by railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in the Parliament on February 26.

2009 Bhoomipujan of railway project of ₹274.55 crore (original cost) by former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on February 11.

2015 Letter written to former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on July 27 to remove hurdles before the project.

2015 Central government issued a notification on September 24 and announced Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded project as a special railway project.

2016 The State government sent a proposal on November 28 to the railway ministry for direct land acquisition for Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded route.

2023 Deoli located at 15 kms from Wardha on Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway route became the first railway station functional with electronic interlocking on August 25.

2023 The train runs at the speed of 125 kms per hour on the 23.69 kms Deoli-Kalamb route on December 23. The railway awarded a safety certificate to the route.

2024 Railway board announces timetable on January 15 for Wardha to Kalamb route. Train to run for five days in a week.

Development of


We used to take follow up of the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project consistently. We used to fight for every project in Vidarbha. The Congress government consistently neglected this 270 kms long project. The alternate route was Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli. For leader late Gopinathji Munde used to speak for both routes in the house consistently. But former rulers were not serious about it. Chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media Group and former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda also used to send letters about Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway route. Finally, we came to power in 2014 and gave a huge boost to both the projects. I remember, we started work on a 40 kms stretch of Wardha-Nanded and 100 kms stretch of Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli in one go. In the meantime, such a government came to the state again, that it stopped giving 50 per cent share of the state to the railway project. But once again we formed the government under the leadership of Eknathrao Shinde and we changed this decision. The State government is once again giving its 50 per cent share. Roads and railways connect regions. Connectivity is most important to achieve rapid development. It’s the main objective behind these projects. Now, almost all hurdles in the way of Wardha-Nanded route will be cleared. Fresh funds have been given again. The Wardha-Yavatmal route is nearing completion. The necessary land acquisition is also being done rapidly. I am sure that this project will be completed soon. We are opening the Wardha-Kalamb route in presence of prime minister Narendra Modiji. This shows that nothing is impossible if there is determination for development. This route giving direct connectivity to Vidarbha and Marathwada will definitely contribute hugely to the development of both these regions.

– Devendra Fadnavis, deputy chief minister, Maharashtra

Dr Vijay Darda is

‘Man Of The Match’

The first name that comes to mind when the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway line is mentioned is Vijaybabu’s, and naturally so. Dr Vijay Darda took maximum efforts to realise the dream of this project connecting Darbha and Marathwada. He insisted on this railway line with such affection as if this is the goal of his life. I am a witness to the hard work he put into this project. He was constantly monitoring every step of the project from getting approval to disbursement of funds. From prime minister’s office, railway minister, chief minister to the senior officials in the ministry, he was personally in touch with them reviewing project work at every place. When the foundation stone of this project was laid in 2009, I had the responsibility of chief minister and I was present at the ceremony. Vijaybabu’s happiness at that time, the satisfaction on his face could be clearly seen. In the language of cricket, Dr Vijay Darda is the ‘Man of the Match’ of this project. Because launching big projects is not an easy task. Successful pursuit of large projects is not possible. I would like to emphasise that Dr Vijay Darda overcame all the hurdles to fulfill the dream of this ambitious project. I have always supported this railway and will continue to do so. Once again Congratulations to Dr Vijay Darda.

– Ashok Chavan, former chief minister

A revitalising

railway project

The Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway project is a lifesaver for Vidarbha and Marathwada. Dr Vijay Darda, who has been continuously trying and following up for this railway line for the last three decades, is the architect of this project. Dr Vijay Darda followed up on this railway project continuously. I was the guardian minister of Yavatmal when the railway project was announced. I am proud that as the guardian minister, I also contributed to this project. After the approval of the project, several meetings were held with the then chief minister as guardian minister for funding and many other issues. Dr Darda attended every meeting. He was continuously corresponding and following up with the chief minister along with the Union minister of railways, Ministry of Railways. The foundation stone of this railway route was laid by former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and in presence of former chief minister Ashokrao Chavan in 2009. I am also a witness of this ceremony. Today, as the project is nearing completion, many people will come forward for credit, but if anyone has done the real work for this railway line, it is Dr Darda. Whenever he used to meet me, he always talked about the railway work. He used to make special preparations for every budget session of the railways. He would also insist in Parliament to get maximum funding for this project. Today the project is nearing completion. This project will speed up the development of Yavatmal district, speed up the communication in this area. It will also help in getting a proper market for the farm produce.

– Manoharrao Naik, former minister, Pusad

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