Govind D. Belgaumkar and T.V. Sivanandan
Train between Bangalore and Mangalore to be flagged off today
Hubli-Ankola line is yet to get environmental clearance
Demand for separate division for Mangalore gains momentum
MANGALORE: The aspirations of the people of the State are finding a renewed expression with the scheduled visit of Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad here on Saturday.
While the Hubli-Ankola line is yet to get environmental clearance, people have been complaining that the Hyderabad-Karnataka region has been ignored by the railways. The Sarin Committee had suggested setting up of a divisional headquarters at Gulbarga covering Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur and parts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
People here have been demanding a separate division for Mangalore. The Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has sought doubling of the Konkan Railway track at least between Mangalore and Goa to cater to the growing commuter and goods transport.
Even as the people have been demanding early operation of the other sanctioned train between the two cities via Arsikere. The train starting on Saturday goes via Mysore.
The Bangalore-based Rajasthan Samaj Railway Sangharsh Samiti has sought extension of the new train up to Madgaon so that it connects Udupi, Kundapur, Bhatkal, Murudeshwar Kumta and Ankola to Bangalore.
The former Chief Minister and Chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission M. Veerappa Moily has demanded that Mangalore should be merged with the Mysore division. Samiti president Prakkaash Mandoth has written to the Railway Minister on December 2 demanding separate division with Mangalore as headquarters under South Western Railway (SWR). Presently it is under the Palakkad division of the Southern Railway.
KCCI president Kumble Narasimha Prabhu said the Southern Railway had meted step-motherly treatment to Mangalore.
He pointed out that completion of 100 years of railway presence here went without any celebration. People celebrated the occasion by cutting cake on a train on November 4. Railway tourism was sure to get better attention and people could hope to get more trains to other cities in Karnataka if Mangalore was brought under SWR, he said.
Mr. Mandoth has said in the letter to Mr. Lalu Prasad that grievances, demands and aspirations of the region and railway proposals would get better attention in that case. This was because divisional and zonal headquarters (Palakkad and Chennai) were far from Mangalore.
He said it was an important freight movement centre, particularly for iron ore and petroleum products.
Since the infrastructure of SWR was being used for the freight movement, merger of the six-km stretch from Mangalore Junction (Kankanady) to Mangalore would be of strategic importance to the SWR.
Mr. Prabhu said the railways should re-introduce the Jan Shatabdi to Mumbai which was a daily service besides introducing a faster night service between Mangalore and Bangalore to help businessmen. The demand for pedestrian overbridge at Padil had not been met, he said.