Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge said on Tuesday that Karnataka lagged Bihar, Haryana and Assam as far as development of rail network was concerned. It was not even close to the level in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, he said.

Mr. Kharge, who laid the foundation stone here for the Rs. 350-crore railway line doubling work between Gulbarga and Hotgi railway stations, said that while Karnataka had 16 per cent railway lines for every 1,000 sq km of area, Bihar, which topped the country, had 38 per cent railway lines for 1,000 sq km area.

He said that Haryana and Assam were the two other States with high growth of railway infrastructure. While Haryana had 34 per cent of railway lines for every 1,000 sq km area, Assam had 31 per cent railway lines for every 1,000 sq km area. Andhra Pradesh had 19.4 per cent railway lines per 1,000 sq km and Maharashtra 18.20 per cent railway lines per 1,000 sq km.

“It would be impossible for Karnataka to match the kind of development that had taken place in Bihar, Haryana or Assam. It would take a great amount of investment to match the railway infrastructure available in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh,” Mr. Kharge said.

“I have very little time left before the next Lok Sabha elections but I have initiated steps to bridge the gap in railway infrastructure development in Karnataka,” he added. Mr. Kharge said that the line doubling between Gulbarga and Hotgi would help the Railways to increase the speed of existing trains and also run more new trains on the Mumbai-Chennai and Mumbai-Bangalore route. This work would be completed within 30 months, he said.

He said that there was emphasis now on completing the long-pending railway projects, including the Gulbarga-Bidar railway line.

Mr. Kharge said that it had been decided to take up a survey to prepare a detailed project report for the proposed Wadi-Gadag new railway line to provide connectivity between Hyderabad Karnataka region and Mumbai Karnataka region. The project would be taken up on cost-sharing basis between the Union and State governments.

General Manager of Central Railways B.P. Khare welcomed the gathering. The former Chief Minister and MP N. Dharam Singh and MLC Allamprabhu Patil spoke.

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