Railway Minister M. Mallikarjuna Kharge on Saturday urged the State government to immediately release its share of funds for railway projects and pace up land acquisition process so as to speed up completion of the ongoing projects.

Speaking after flagging off the Yeshwanthpur-Mangalore Weekly Express here, Mr. Kharge said in the last six months, the government has released only Rs. 50 crore whereas the Railways has released Rs. 320 crore. The Railways has earmarked over Rs. 700 crore for projects in Karnataka and an equal amount has to come from the State government. In the next six months, the government has to release the balance Rs. 650 crore at the rate of Rs. 109 crore a month, he said.

Patting his own back, Mr. Kharge said in 100 days of assuming the office, he not only got 13 trains announced in the Railway Budget for Karnataka but also introduced three new trains which were not announced in the budget.

As far as ongoing projects are concerned, land acquisition at certain stretches has been hampering the progress. If the government provides land near Kunigal Stud Farm immediately, the Railways could complete the Bangalore-Hassan new line within this year, he said.

Similarly, if the government completes rehabilitation of affected people on the Chikballapur-Kolar line, services could start within two months. Ditto is the case with the Kottur-Harihara new line where land acquisition on a small stretch is hampering the project. Mr. Kharge said the Railways would commence operation on Kadur-Chickmaglur new lines within a month.

Speaking earlier, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily urged Mr. Kharge to announce Mangalore and Gulbarga as new divisional headquarters for South Western Railway. “Mangalore has all the potential to become a divisional headquarters so as your Gulbarga. Please expedite the process,” he said.

Stating that the Sakleshpur-Mangalore line is not exploited to its capacity, Mr. Moily asked the Railway Minister to speed up the Bangalore-Hassan new line project which reduced the travel time by over four hours between Bangalore and Mangalore. “I’ll take up the matter of land acquisition near Kunigal with the State government,” he said.

Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao, and senior railway officials were present.

Train timings

Train No. 16565 Yeshwanthpur-Mangalore Weekly Express will leave Yeshwanthpur at 11.55 p.m. on Sundays and arrive at Mangalore at 5.40 p.m. on Mondays. Train No. 16566 Mangalore-Yeshwanthpur Weekly Express leaves Mangalore at 8 p.m. on Mondays to reach Yeshwanthpur at 1.30 pm on Tuesdays.

The train will stop at Banaswadi, Krishnarajapura, Bangarpet, Kuppam, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Shoranur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Vadakkara, Thalassery, Kannur, Payyanur and Kasargod. It will have one 2-tier air-conditioned coach, one 3-tier air-conditioned coach, seven second class sleeper coaches, six second class coaches and two second class sitting-cum-luggage vans.

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