To facilitate gauge conversion between Kollam and Punalur
KOLLAM: Protests were held on Monday in various places in the eastern sector of Kollam district through which the Kollam-Punalur-Shencottah metre gauge railway line passes and at the Kollam metre gauge terminal against the decision of the Railways to withdraw all the 12 train services on the Kollam-Punalur section from Tuesday.
The decision has been taken to facilitate gauge conversion work between Kollam and Punalur. It has, however, come in for criticism from the passengers who depend on the services to reach their place of work or study.
Their contention is that the gauge conversion work can be carried out without the withdrawal of the services.
At the Kollam Junction, passengers who arrived by the last Shencottah-Kollam metre gauge morning train held a demonstration under the banner of the Railway Passengers' Association (RPA). Inaugurating a meeting of the passengers after the demonstration, RPA president S. Ulhaskumar called upon the representatives of the people to take up the issue with the Railway authorities concerned and find a solution. At least peak hour services should be restored, he said.
Mr. Ulhaskumar also protested against Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu cancelling his schedule at Shencottah on Sunday to discuss the issue.
He alleged that cancelling the visit at the eleventh hour indicated the reluctance on the part of the Minister to address the issues of the people of Kerala.
Meanwhile, a protest demonstration was held at Punalur on Monday morning under the banner of the Nationalist Youth Congress (NYC). Activists of the NYC boarded the morning Kollam-Shencottah passenger train and arrived at Punalur to organise the demonstration. The NYC also organised a march through the metre gauge line for some distance from Punalur.
The march was led by NYC district president Santosh Thuppaserry. A protest meeting organised in this connection was inaugurated by NYC State general secretary Nedumankavu Gopalakrishnan.
Protests were also witnessed at the railways stations at Ezhukone, Kundara and Chandanathope. Incidentally, Minister for Education M.A. Baby boarded the last metre gauge train towards Kollam from Kundara in the evening and arrived at the Kollam railway station.