The line will facilitate better connectivity and spur development of villages

The foundation stone for the first phase of the Chikmagalur-Sakleshpur (47 km) new broad-gauge rail line, in the Mysore Division of the South Western Railway, will be laid on Sunday. This is a step closer to the completion of the Chikmagalur-Belur-Sakleshpur rail line project sanctioned during 1996–97.

While the first phase of the work, between Kadur-Chikmagalur (45.125 km), was commissioned for rail traffic on November 19, 2013, the second phase of work was frozen by the Railway Board as early as September 2007.

However, the State government came forward to provide land free of cost, in addition to footing 50 per cent of the bill for the project, after which came the decision to de-freeze work.

A Railways press release said the State government would provide 838 acres free of cost to the Railways, and the revised estimate for the project, pegged at Rs. 645 crore, was approved by the Railway Board in January this year.

Once the project is complete, it will enable better connectivity towards Mangalore, Hubli, Mumbai and Bangalore. The section also passes through the tourist hotspot of Belur, which is famous for its Hoysala architecture. In addition, it will benefit Hadihalli, Tagare, Bikkodu and Masavalli villages, where stations are proposed to be built.

Railway authorities said three tunnels (totalling 2.5 km in length), 11 major bridges, 59 minor bridges, 28 road overbridges and 16 road under-bridges will be constructed.

It was decided not to have any level crossings in the section, to ensure public safety. There are also plans to install renewable energy sources such as solar windmills to power lights on platforms and station buildings in the Chikmagalur section, said the release.

The foundation stone for the new line will be laid by Minister for Railways M. Mallikarjun Kharge at 11 a.m.

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will be among those present on the occasion.

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