Union Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal has instructed the Railway officials to complete the doubling works of the Haripad-Ambalapuzha stretch in the Kayamkulam-Ernakulam railway line by January 2014.

The Minister, who is also the MP from Alappuzha Parliamentary constituency, was presiding over a meeting convened here on Saturday to discuss the problems related to rail development in his constituency.

A monitoring committee with the district collector as chairman will oversee the land acquisition and related issues including availability of sand for the doubling works. This committee will have to meet every month.

The authorities have been asked to contact the Pathanamthitta district collector to obtain sand and take urgent steps. He came down heavily on what he termed as the “slow pace” of the Railway officials in carrying out the doubling works.

The Minister said that the Railways should accord priority to total doubling of the Ernakulam-Kayamkulam railway line and the safety of passengers. The land acquisition on the Kumbalam-Thuravur area should be completed within a year. He said he would urge the State government to set up a special unit for this purpose. It was noted that the travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam via Alappuzha will take only two hours as a result of doubling of the route.

The meeting was told that a total of 20 gatekeepers were appointed at level crossings in the Alappuzha Parliamentary constituency. It was also told of a decision to construct underground passages beneath level crossings for small vehicles, including cars, to cross over.

The Minister asked the authorities to have talks with the local bodies concerned on connecting the approach roads on both sides of the railway lines at different places so as to have better connectivity.

The authorities should submit recommendations which the local bodies also agree to, in this regard within a month.

The Centre has given the green signal for level crossings at Ezhupunna, Kayamkulam and Cheravalli. The other level crossings under the scheme have been approved by the Railways. Further steps will be taken for the approval of Centre in this regard.

The Minister said that special consideration will be accorded to railway stations at Thuravur, Aroor and Ambalapuzha. The Alappuzha railway station will be modernised, taking into account the presence of tourists. Facilities, including escalators, will be set up at the station.

The Minister said that necessary steps will be taken for utilising MP-MLA funds for the repair of railway approach roads. The district collector has been asked to convene a meeting of trade unions to solve the labour issues at the goods yard here.

Committees headed by respective municipal chairpersons will be formed for improving the basic facilities at Karunagappally, Kayamkulam, Cherthala and Alappuzha railway stations. Representatives of rail passengers and officials will be members of these committees, he said.

District Collector V. Ratheeshan, Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Aggarwal and chief administrative officer, Railways, Dani Thomas, were among those who attended the meeting.

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