Staff Reporter

Says he is bound by the decision of Railway Board on division bifurcation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The jurisdiction of the proposed Salem railway division was decided by the Railway Board and the Union Ministry of Railways, and the Southern Railway did not have any say in finalising it, Southern Railway General Manager Thomas Varghese said here on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference at the divisional headquarters after a meeting of MPs from the State to discuss railway projects, Mr. Varghese said the decision on the jurisdiction of the proposed division taken at the highest level was communicated to the Southern Railway a month ago.

"We had given three proposals to the Railway Board. But the board fixed the jurisdiction and communicated it to us. We are bound by the decision of the board. The MPs had conveyed their protest in bifurcating the Palakkad division. The Kerala Government should take it up at the highest level," he said.

Mr. Varghese said an Officer on Special Duty had been appointed to look into the requirements of the proposed railway division.

"Of the Rs.36 crore demanded by the Southern Railway, only Rs.20 crore had been sanctioned. The cost would go up by 20 per cent. The Tamil Nadu Government is yet to hand over land near Salem for setting up the division." On whether the creation of the Salem division would affect the Palakkad division, the General Manager said loadings and earning of the Palakkad division would come down. The route kilometre of the proposed division would be 800 km and that of Palakkad 450 km.

MPs walk out

Meanwhile, the MPs from the State walked out of the meeting in protest against the decision to bifurcate Palakkad division in an unscientific way. They walked out when Mr. Varghese took up the proposal for setting up the Salem railway division.

Incidentally, the matter was taken up as the last item of the agenda.

Mr. Varghese said the feelings of the MPs would be communicated to the Railway Board. Twenty MPs attended the meeting.

He appealed to all sections of the people not to disrupt the train services.

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