State government to prioritise them and seek early completion
Having witnessed the slow pace at which railway projects are executed for want of funds, people in Karnataka want the Ministry of Railways to focus on completing the ongoing projects than announcing new ones.
Eighteen new line projects and 16 track-doubling projects are under way in Karnataka, and they are estimated to cost nearly Rs. 20,000 crore. Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had even said that completion of these ongoing projects would require the entire annual fund allocation of the Ministry.
Sources in the Ministry told The Hindu that speeding up the ongoing projects was high on the agenda of Mr. Gowda, who will present his maiden budget on July 8. On the other hand, the State government too was aware of huge financial implication of the ongoing projects since it was sharing half the project cost besides offering land for free.Prioritising projects
Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee told The Hindu that the government was not in a position to provide Rs. 10,000 crore at once and was prioritising the projects. Accordingly, the Department of Infrastructure Development would submit the proposal to the Ministry, Mr. Mukherjee said.
Sanjeev Dyamannavar of www.praja.in, which has been espousing the cause of augmenting railway network in Karnataka, said some of the new line projects announced because of political reasons should not be accorded priority. Instead, the Ministry should concentrate on strengthening the existing network, enhancing the line capacity and speeding up important ongoing new line projects.
Similar view was expressed by K.N. Krishnaprasad, a retired Central government officer, who said that instead of announcing new projects, the Ministry should speed up track-doubling and electrification of the Bangalore–Mysore line, work on Nelamangala–Shravanabelagola stretch of the Hassan–Bangalore new line, doubling of the Yelahanka–Hindupur trunk line, and introducing suburban rail system for Bangalore.
Mr. Dyamannavar said some of the new lines announced earlier, including Whitefield–Kolar, Shimoga–Harihar and Chickballapur–Gauribidanur/ Puttaparthi, did not serve larger interests of the State even as interests of people in those regions could be served by doubling the existing lines in the vicinity. At the same time, focus should be on completing new lines such as Tumkur–Chitradurga–Davangere, Tumkur–Rayadurga and Gadwal–Raichur. All ongoing track-doubling projects should be completed at the earliest even as the Tumkur–Hubli line should be doubled on priority, he demanded.