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No major shuffle of staff for Salem division: Velu

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REVIEWING PROGRESS: Minister of State for Railways R. Velu inspecting the gauge conversion work near Vriddhachalam on Saturday. Photo: T. Singaravelou
REVIEWING PROGRESS: Minister of State for Railways R. Velu inspecting the gauge conversion work near Vriddhachalam on Saturday. Photo: T. Singaravelou

Special Correspondent

Says for administrative convenience, Railways has chosen to form a compact division "Line control equipment will be acquired in the next four months and civil works taken up soon"

VRIDDHACHALAM: It will take two to three years for the formation of a full-fledged Salem railway division, Minister of State for Railways R. Velu said on Saturday.

Line control equipment would be acquired in the next four months and soon civil works taken up.

Mr. Velu was addressing a press conference at Ilangiyanur, 20 km from here, where he inspected gauge conversion works.

When his attention was drawn to the Kerala Assembly resolution against the formation of the division, Mr. Velu said neither the Kerala Government nor the Tamil Nadu Government should be linked to it.

Contentious issue

It was for administrative and operational convenience that Railways had chosen to form a compact division. The difference seemed to be over the territorial jurisdiction. The Palakkad division would have control over 509 route km and the Salem division, over 623 km.

Mr. Velu allayed the fears that creation of the division would result in major shuffling of employees.

Barring 200-300 officials, who would be given the option to shift, all gangmen and security related staff would remain undisturbed.

Palakkad would have a workforce of 8,600 and Salem 7,900. The operating ratio of Southern Railway remained at 108 per cent (for investment of every Rs. 108 the returns would be Rs. 100) as against the national average of 79 per cent. By redesigning passenger and freight marketing and cutting down expenditure, the ratio would be improved.

Gauge conversion

He said the Rs. 300-crore gauge conversion work on the 196-km long Cuddalore-Salem line would be completed by May. An 18-km branch line from Chinna Salem to Kallakurichi would be laid at a cost of Rs. 38 crore.

He did not agree that laying of four-lane highways would divert freight traffic to the road sector.

For environmental considerations, the Railways would continue to be the mainstay for hauling heavy goods for long distance.

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