Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa has urged the State government to expedite the transfer of land for making projects like the coach factory at Palakkad, wagon component unit at Cherthala and the railway medical college in the State a reality.
Addressing a press conference at the Thiruvananthapuram railway division headquarters here on Tuesday to detail the Rs. 480-crore allocation and projects sanctioned in the rail budget for the State, Mr. Muniyappa said the “State has to come forward to provide land to the Railways for taking up projects and for the ongoing doubling of the tracks in the State and that is the humble request from us”.
“The delay in construction of the coach factory at Palakkad is a matter of concern. It has to be resolved as land had not been given to us till date is what I can say,” the Minister said, when asked whether opposition to the public-private partnership model put forward by the Railways for the proposed factory was the hurdle.
On the medical college proposed at Pettah near Thiruvananthapuram in the last budget, the Minister said the project was to be implemented by the Railways in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Land was a problem, as 25 acres was the minimum needed and that much land was not available with the Railways at Pettah.
Asked about the world class stations proposed for Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode, the Union Minister said the Railways needed adequate land for the project as huge investment would be needed and the private-public partnership model was to be taken up.
“We are yet to sort out the technical problems on the methodology. But, States like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have come forward with offers of providing land for the projects already. The Railways are ready with the plan of action for Thiruvananthapuram.”
On the Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) services in the State, Mr. Muniyappa said all trains sanctioned in the budget would commence running before March 2012.
“There is no discrimination to the State in sanctioning rail projects,” the Union Minister said adding that the projects and the trains were sanctioned depending on traffic demand, needs and development of the region.
The railway allocation for the State had gone up from Rs.234 crore during 2010-11 to Rs.480 crore in 2011-12.
As many as 14 trains, extension of one train and increase in frequency of another had been announced in the budget. “But, we need path for these trains and the State should give land for doubling and laying new lines,” he added.
Mr. Muniyappa said the Railways were committed to laying 25,000 km of eco-friendly tracks as per the 2020 Mission and the plan was to switch on to electric locomotives as they were environmental friendly and can check pollution compared to diesel locomotives. General Manager of Southern Railway Deepak Krishnan; Executive Director Public Grievances to the MOS(R) N.C. Goyal; Rajeev Dutt Sharma; S.K. Raina and A.K. Goyal, divisional managers of Thiruvananthapruam, Palakkad and Madurai respectively; Chief Passenger Transportation Manager, Southern Railway, E. Sekharan; Chief Engineer (Construction) P. Jayakumar; and top officials attended.