Special Correspondent

Say it is a pro-Kerala budget with emphasis on people’s needs

Proposal to double Mangalore-Shoranur line hailed

Project for coach factory on: Chandy

KOZHIKODE: The top leadership of the United Democratic Front, including Oommen Chandy, Leader of the Opposition, and Muslim League State general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty, has hailed the railway budget as “pro-people, particularly towards the people of Kerala.”

The UDF leaders thanked Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and her deputy and Muslim League leader E. Ahamed at separate press meets on Friday “for responding so enthusiastically and favourably to the State’s demands for better railway facilities.”

Mr. Chandy and Mr. Kunhalikutty also acknowledged the contributions that Mr. Ahamed, the Minister of State for Railways, and the newly-elected MPs from Kerala had made towards the “pro-Kerala Railway Budget.” “Kerala never had so many ministers in Union government and the State never benefited so much from earlier railway budgets,” Mr. Chandy said.

Mr. Chandy said railway passengers in northern Kerala had every reason to rejoice since their long-standing demand for doubling of Mangalore-Shoranur rail-line was proposed to be completed this financial year itself.

Unmet demands

When it was pointed out that Ms. Banerjee was mum on the subject of the promised railway coach factory for Palakkad, Mr. Chandy said the project was very much on. He had information that the foundations for the project would be laid as soon as the State government released sufficient land.

The Nilambur-Najancode and Thalassery- Mysore rail lines had not been addressed in the budget. The main objections against these proposals had been that their execution would involve destruction of forests.

KPCC reaction

Special Correspondent writes from Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala on Friday said that several proposals in the Railway Budget presented in Parliament would be a boon to commuters in the State. The Erumeli- Punalur- Thiruvananthapuram rail line has been a long standing demand of the State, he added.

Kerala Congress (Jacob) leader T.M. Jacob said that Kerala had never before got so many train services sanctioned in one single budget.

Hopes belied: BJP

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union Minister of State for Railways O. Rajagopal said here on Friday that the railway budget did not address the basic problems of railway development in Kerala.

Addressing a press conference, the BJP leader said the budget belied the hopes of Kerala. The State had hoped to get a railway zone. If the new government could not address the issue in a short time, it should have at least accepted the demand in principle or taken initial steps in this direction. The people of Kerala knew from their experience that even the budgeted funds would get diverted to Tamil Nadu in the absence of a zone here.

Mr. Rajagopal said that Kerala should have been viewed as a city and its centres linked using main line electrical multiple unit or diesel multiple unit services.