Monday, Jul 28, 2003
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By S. Vydhianathan
According to the Railway Ministry, out of 2907 km of metre gauge track, conversion of 995 km was completed by the end of March. Work is in progress in about 1280 km stretch. Allotment for various gauge conversion projects is about Rs. 93 crores.
Though the allocation is inadequate, the Ministry has assured zonal authorities that funds would be provided for completing the Thanjavur-Kumbakonam (38 km), Rajapalayam - Tenkasi (70 km), Vadalur - Cuddalore (20 km) portion of the Vriddhachalam - Cuddalore and Villupuram - Pondicherry (38 km) sections before the end of current financial year. Apart from these targeted projects, conversion of one of the two metre gauge lines on the Tambaram - Chengalpattu section would be completed by year-end.
According to Southern Railway sources, there would be no difficulty in completing the targeted projects as per schedule except the Thanjavur- Kumbakonam section. Many small bridges had to be rebuilt as per BG specification. Authorities want to complete it at the earliest, as there is a possibility of water being released from the Mettur reservoir, which would hinder the execution of the work.
The railways cannot afford to delay this project as it has to open the line for traffic before the ``Mahamaham'' festival at Kumbakonam in February next.
Provision of one more BG line between Tambaram - Chengalpattu would help ease congestion in commuter traffic between Kancheepuram/Chengalpattu - Tambaram section.
Work on other major projects such as conversion of Madurai - Rameswaram, Tiruchi - Rameswaram, Tirunelveli - Tiruchendur, Thanjavur Nagore, and Salem - Vriddhachalam sections and Salem Karur new line have been pending for a long time. Their completion in near future is unlikely as funds allotment for these projects continued to be meagre, the sources said.
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