Land acquisition and difficulties in ensuring continuous supply of soil are delaying railway gauge conversion projects in Tamil Nadu, according to S. Vijayakumaran, Chief Administrative Officer, Construction, Southern Railway.

The Pollachi-Podanur gauge conversion work could not be taken up for over two years as 18 hectares of land was not handed over by the State government, he said.

The Madurai-Bodi gauge conversion work slowed down due to delay in handing over of 40 hectares.

“We need the land in four locations. We can start the work only after the land is handed over to us,” he told The Hindu.

He said the State should try to acquire land and hand it over within the first year of commencement of work.

The Karaikudi-Pattukottai gauge conversion work also suffered for over two years. “The line has been closed for 18 months and not even half a km work has been completed,” the CAO said.

Maintaining that flow of funds was not a constraint for executing the projects, he said the Construction wing should be able to carry out works on new lines and gauge conversion for around 200 to 250 km a year.

“But, we are not able to even complete 150 km,” he said.

Any delay in work brought additional responsibility of protecting the costly railway properties against theft.

He said the railways faced a similar problem in Kerala, but not in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Mr. Vijayakumaran said railway officials have taken up the matter with the State Minister, Chief Secretary and Secretary for Transport.

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