Ahead of the Vote-on-Account slated for February 12, people of the State have pinned their hopes on Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge to announce the creation of a new railway division in Gulbarga and bring it under the South Western Railway (SWR).
The demand for a railway division in Gulbarga, one of the major freight-intensive locations of the Railways, has been pending for over four decades. Even the H.C. Sareen Committee appointed by the Railway Ministry (1984) had recommended the creation of a new division as it is the most backward region in the State.
In a recent letter to Mr. Kharge, Prakash Mandoth, member of South Western Railway Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, said that what was needed was political will for the creation of the new division. He gave the example of the creation of the Salem division in 2008 by the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad following pressure mounted by the United Progressive Alliance partner, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.Tremendous growth
As a revenue division of the State, Gulbarga has been witnessing tremendous growth in the past decade, he said. Gulbarga also has a permanent Bench of the High Court of Karnataka. A Greenfield airport is coming up and information technology and textile parks have been proposed. The region has nine mega cement plants besides the proposed thermal power plants of NTPC at Bijapur.
Mr. Kharge’s announcement on the administrative office of the Sholapur division of the Central Railway (CR) in Gulbarga is not enough. It should culminate in a full-fledged division, he said. Important railway stations of the region — Raichur, Halkatta, Yadgir, Wadi, Shahabad, Gulbarga, Sedam, Chittapur, Tandur and Bidar are divided among the Central Railway, Mumbai, and South Central Railway (SCR), Secundrabad. People in Karnataka have to approach either Sholapur and Nanded or Secundrabad and Guntakal of the South Central Railway for grievance redressal or to get new trains, Mr. Mandoth said.
While about Rs. 2,000 crore revenue is generated by the Railways in the region, it is essential to create the division to fulfil the aspirations of the people, he said. Mr. Mandoth urged the Minister to take the same initiative he had taken to get special status to Hyderabad Karnataka region under Article 371 J, to create the new division too. The new division may include Hotgi-Indi Road; Hotgi-Mantralayam Road; Gulbarga-Bidar new line; Bidar-Latur Road; Gadag-Wadi new line and Koppal-Raichur new line.