Special Correspondent

4,000 to 5,000 new employment opportunities

Infrastructure development

gets a boost

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lok Sabha member P. Karunakaran has described as a major achievement the Centre’s promise to grant Kerala’s long-pending demand for a railway coach factory in Palakkad.

The CPI(M) MP told a news conference here on Saturday that if fulfilled, the coach factory would result in generation of 4,000 to 5,000 new employment opportunities besides facilitation of several ancillary industrial units in the neighbourhood. This would give a major push to the State’s infrastructure development, he said.

Mr. Karunakaran said Railway Minister Lalu Prasad’s promise was not something that had come out of the blue. Kerala had been clamouring for a coach factory since the time when V.K. Krishna Menon was a Minister at the Centre.

Successive Governments and MPs had put sustained pressure on the Centre for sanction for a coach factory.

The Minister’s announcement marked fruition of all these efforts, he added.

The CPI(M) leader said Kerala had nothing against formation of Salem Railway Division.

Its only objection was to the drastic reduction of the route kilometres under the jurisdiction of the Palakkad Division to form the new division. At present, Palakkad has 1,210 route kilometres under its jurisdiction.

Once the Salem Division is formed, this would come down to around 550 route kilometres, he said.

Kerala, he said, wanted the Centre to take this into consideration when the new division is formed. In the State’s view, the new division could be formed by taking small portions from various divisions in the South.

It is heartening to note that the Railway Minister has expressed the Centre’s readiness to take such concerns also into account when the new division is formed, he said.

Mr. Karunakaran said the State also wanted formation of a new zone in the South to cover Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

This would result in better flow of funds for railway development in the area. That the Centre has agreed to look into this demand as well is a welcome sign, he said.