Allocation for ongoing rail projects termed meagre
The meagre allocation of Rs.216.83 crore in the Railway Budget for the State for ongoing projects reflects the funds crunch faced by the Railways, sources say.
The State also got a poor deal in terms of new projects and trains. The proposed coach factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad had been given Rs.56.69 crore and the wagon component factory at Cherthala Rs.97 lakh and it reportedly reflected the attitude of Railways to the two projects expected to give an impetus to rail development in the State.
Doubling of lines between Kayamkulam and Ernakulam, via Kottayam and Alappuzha; development of the Kochuveli terminal; setting up of coaching depots at Kottayam and Nemom, and the upgrade of Thiruvananthapuram and three other major stations to world-class standards had also not been given required funds.
A break up of allocation showed that doubling works in the State had been given Rs.72.5 crore; Rs.12 crore for new lines; Rs.18.31 crore for electrification; Rs.2.56 crore for level-crossings; Rs.12.79 crore for rail overbridges and road underbridges; Rs.16.33 crore for bridges; Rs.82 lakh for telecommunication and signalling; Rs.8.79 crore for passenger amenities; Rs.2.43 crore for MEMU; and Rs.6.49 crore for rakes.
The government’s failure to identify needs and prioritise projects has had a debilitating impact on the State, official sources told The Hindu.
Former Chairman of the Railway Board M.N. Prasad said the real need of the State was steps to enhance line capacity. Automatic signalling system, doubling of the Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari line, and the development of the Kochuveli terminal should be accorded priority. “The State has oversaturated lines. Without line capacity and terminal capacity, Railways cannot operate new trains. It is senseless to run Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) on single lines,” he said. “It was not a populist budget and Mr. Bansal had mentioned the hard realities,” he said.
Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said he shared the general concern about long-pending requests from the State. “The disappointment felt in many quarters is understandable and there is concern with respect to the Railway needs of the State. This will have to be collectively taken up at the highest level,” he said.