A century-old dream of people in Chikmagalur was fulfilled on Tuesday as a Chikmagalur-Kadur-Shimoga town passenger train was flagged off after the new Kadur-Chikmagalur railway line was commissioned. With this, the efforts that began in 1893 during the British rule to provide railway connectivity to Chikmagalur town have yielded fruits. The programme was held on Tuesday to mark the birth anniversary of late Indira Gandhi, whose political fortunes were revived after she was elected from Chikmagalur in a byelection in 1979.

Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who inaugurated the new line and flagged off the train, said that his department chose the day (November 19) for the programme to commemorate Indira Gandhi’s contribution in materialising the project. “Though the demand for the Kadur-Chikmagalur railway line has a history since 1893, the project got a push only in 1983 when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. She had assured the people of Chikmagalur, train connectivity during her election campaign in 1979. She ordered for survey of a railway line project in 1983,” he said.

Mr. Kharge, tracing the history of the project, said that it was first conceived in 1893. The British wanted to have a railway line to boost mining activity in Chikmagalur area. The survey was done. But work did not start. In 1917, the British conducted another survey but failed to proceed further due to World War I. In post-Independent India, efforts were made in 1951 and 1957. But the project got a boost only during Indira Gandhi’s rule, he said. After Indira Gandhi, leaders of all political parties representing Chikmagalur in the Lok Sabha struggled to help materialise this project.

Environment clearance

The second phase of the project includes connecting Chikmagalur and Sakleshpur in Hassan district. A survey on the project, estimated to be worth over Rs. 650 crore, has been completed. However, land has to be acquired and the Union government has to give environment clearance.

Mr. Kharge said, “Unless we get environment clearance, it is difficult to go ahead with the project. People’s representatives, the State government and Union Ministers elected from the State have to make efforts to get clearance. Similarly, the State government has to speed up land acquisition. If these things are completed soon, we will include the second phase of the project in the next budget.”

He appealed to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to direct the officers concerned to speed up land acquisition and that he review the progress of work every month.

The railway lines connecting Tumkur-Davangere and Harihar-Kottur were delayed because of delay in land acquisition, he added.

He urged the Chief Minister to release the State government’s share necessary to complete the on-going work. “The State has released Rs. 295 crore. Another Rs. 400 crore is required for the on-going projects. If funds are released, we can meet the target set for this year,” he said.

Rail network

“If there is any system that unites all parts of Karnataka, it is the railway network. We have a well laid out railway network which connects areas of Mumbai Karnataka, Hyderabad Karnataka and the old Mysore regions. Moreover, we are providing train services at less than bus fare,” he said.

Mr. Siddaramaiah, Union Minister for Road Transport Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily, Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises K.H. Muniyappa and Minister in-charge of Chikmagalur district Abhaya Chandra Jain were present.

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