Major projects coming under the Southern Railway can be completed soon only if the State Governments share the costs of the projects, according to Southern Railway General Manager (GM) Rakesh Misra.
Mr.Misra made a statement to this effect at a meeting organised with Members of Parliament here on Thursday to discuss the on-going railway projects ahead of the next railway budget, Virudhunagar MP (Congress) B. Manicka Tagore, who participated in the meeting, told The Hindu.
According to the MP, the General Manager attributed the slow progress of the project works to the decreased fund allocation.
The MPs demanded several projects like laying of a new line in Madurai-Aruppukottai-Tuticorin section, a new line linking Dindigul and Sabarimala, doubling of Villupuram-Nagercoil line and completion of Shengottah-Punalur and Madurai-Bodi gauge conversion projects.
Railway officials said some States like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were making 50 per cent contribution for railway projects which were considered commercially unviable.
While new line projects worth Rs.5,000 crore had been sanctioned in the Southern Railway, the budgetary allocation made for 2012-13 was only around Rs.100 crore.
While around 30 MPs representing constituencies coming under the Madurai and Tiruchi railway divisions were invited for the meeting, only seven turned up.
Speaking at the meeting, Manishankar Iyer said the Southern Railway had neglected the Mainline (connecting Chennai with the Delta region) after taking up the gauge conversion work in 1988.
“Several trains that were running between Chennai and the Delta region have not been re-introduced after gauge conversion,” he said. He wanted the railway to resume the five passenger trains that were running on the Mainline.
He suggested a rail link between Mayiladurai and Tharangampadi for which, he said, the railway did not have to acquire any land afresh.
He also wanted a train connecting the popular pilgrimage destinations of Velankanni, Nagoor and Tirunallar.
He sought stoppage of mail and express trains at Tirusulam railway station for the benefit of air passengers going to the airport in Chennai.
Theni MP J.M. Haroon flayed the railway administration for not starting the gauge conversion work in Madurai-Bodi section even three years after the closure of the line. “The people of Theni did not ask for gauge conversion… It (not starting the work) is affecting transportation of goods like spices and tea,” he said.
He wanted the railway to set up its goods booking offices in Theni, Bodi and Usilampatti.
Other MPs who attended the meeting were N.S.V. Chitthan, O.S. Manian, S.S. Palanimanickam and Ramasubbu. Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Southern Railway, S. Vijayakumaran, and Divisional Railway Managers, A.K. Rastogi (Madurai) and Manjula Rangarajan (Tiruchi) were present.
While new line projects worth Rs.5,000 crore had been sanctioned, the budgetary allocation made for 2012-13 was only around Rs.100 crore
Though around 30 MPs representing constituencies coming under the Madurai and Tiruchi railway divisions were invited, only seven turned up.