J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The People’s Forum for Natural Justice (PFNJ) of Ottappalam in Kerala has challenged the constitutionality and legality of the Railway Ministry’s decision to create Salem division after bifurcating Palakkad division of the Southern Railway.

The petitioner alleged that the bifurcation of the Palakkad division, formed in August 1956, was purely for political reasons as there was no administrative exigency, reasonable stipulation or serving of the need of any travelling public.

There was no work-study which recommended formation of such a division.

Southern Railway consists of five divisions: Chennai, Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirappalli and Madurai.

The Railway Board specifically agreed that there was no constraint experienced at present to the management of the Palakkad division.

“It is also pertinent to note that out of the 1,132 route kilometres of the existing Palakkad division, around 640 km belongs to Tamil Nadu area, that is 56 per cent is in Tamil Nadu area. Out of this 640 km of Tamil Nadu area 98.4 per cent is taken for Salem division. Only about 10 km of Tamil Nadu areas between two stations viz. Kodannur and Madikkiri is given to Palakkad division. It is pertinent to note that as an act of mala fides the notification issued regarding formation of the Salem division was made in a confidential manner.”

The petitioner said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad had agreed to review and revise the jurisdiction proposed for the Salem division.

The Railway Minister even declared that the notification issued in this case would be cancelled. But, it alleged that due to political pressure from Tamil Nadu, the process of creation of Salem division was progressing and even the Minister for State for Railways had declared that the Salem division would be opened on August 15.

The petitioner said it was necessary to stop all further proceedings pursuant to the creation and opening of Salem division until an agreement was arrived at between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.