`Put pressure on railways for adequate funds'
POLLACHI: Pollachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has called for a general strike in Pollachi on February 13 to protest against thedelayin converting the track between Coimbatore and Dindigul from metre gauge into broad gauge and press the Railway Ministry to complete the work this year.
Service organisations, traders and political parties in the region have joined together to put pressure on the railway authorities to allocate adequate funds for the work. Udumalpet Citizens' Forum will stage a demonstration on Friday. The Forum has also called for a bandh on February 14.
The gauge conversion of 224 km track from Coimbatore/Palakkad to Dindigul via Pollachi, Udumalpet and Palani was included in the Railway Budget 2006 after getting clearance from the Planning Commission and the Railway Board. Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had allotted Rs. 1 crore against the estimated cost of Rs. 354 crore.
PCCI vice-president G.D. Gopalakrishnan alleged that the section was getting a raw deal even after it was included in the Budget.
"The State Government and all MPs should mount pressure on the railways to allocate sufficient funds. The early completion of the project will give a fillip to the coir industry of Pollachi and tea industry of Valparai," he said.
A delegation of industrialists and prominent personalities is planning to meet Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu in Chennai on Thursday.
A joint agitation committee formed in Udumalpet comprising all service organisations and political parties urged the Railway authorities to complete the gauge conversion work in a time-bound manner.
The committee requested the railways to at least complete Pollachi-Coimbatore and Pollachi-Palakkad sections in the first phase.
This would enable operation of Cheran Express from Pollachi and extension of Palakkad train to Cochin and Aleppey.
Since there was no train service between Coimbatore and southern districts in the night at present, the early completion of the gauge conversion would help people of southern and western Tamil Nadu to have a better rail connectivity, it said. It would also help thousands of devotees who visit the pilgrim centre Palani.