Adopt fast-track mode to acquire land, Railways urged
The State government has urged Railways to adopt the Fast Track Project (FTP) mode to acquire land for speedy completion of the Angamaly-Sabari rail project aimed at linking Sabarimala to the railway network of the country.
The State has also urged Railways to extend the proposed railway line to Punalur for better traffic throughout the year and reduce the pressure on the Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram mainline.
The requests were made by the State to Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi during a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Monday.
The requests came close on the heels of Railways' demand that the State bear 50 per cent of the cost towards the ambitious 117-km Sabari rail project. The cost of the proposed project had gone up from the initial estimate of Rs.550 crore to Rs.1,214 crore. The Railway Board is yet to clear the revised estimate and the alignment of the Sabari railway line.
Only seven hectares of the total 420 hectares of land needed for the project had been acquired by the State and handed over to Railways. The proposed line goes through Ernakulam, Idukki, and Kottayam districts. It covers 22 panchayats and four municipalities.
The State has also urged Railways to relax its stand and adopt the FTP mode for the Sabari railway line in the light of the proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act that will cost Railways almost six times the fair value of the land.
The entire land in Angamali and Nedumbassery villages had already been acquired under the Act. An amount of Rs.12 crore was needed to give additional compensation to the landowners in the two villages under FTP.
Further, Rs.152.27 crore was needed for payment of compensation for land acquisition in Ernakulam district. As much as 77.09 hectares of land had been acquired from ten villages.
There are 1,429 landholders in Angamaly, Nedumbaserry, Mattor, Vadakkumbhagam, Chelamattom, Koovappady, Perumbavoor, Vengoor West, Asamannoor and Rayamangalam villages.
Initially, Railways were for laying the 130-km railway line from Angamaly to Azhutha. The stretch falls under forest area and as many as 11 tunnels had to be created between Erumeli and Azhutha. Besides, there was no added advantage in taking the railway line to Azhutha. Railways have now drastically changed the alignment and decided to terminate the railway line at Erumeli. By this, the proposed Sabari railway line would be only of 117 km.