Delay in land acquisition and lack of continuous supply of earth are delaying railway gauge conversion projects in Tamil Nadu, according to S. Vijayakumaran, Chief Administrative Officer, Construction, Southern Railway.

He wanted the State government to accord priority in acquisition of land and help railway contractors in excavating earth. The Pollachi-Podanur gauge conversion work could not be taken up for over two years as 18 hectares of land was not yet handed over to the Railways by the State government, he said.

Similarly, the Madurai-Bodi gauge conversion work slowed down due to delay in handing over of 40 hectares. “We need the land in four locations. We could start the work only after the land is handed over to us,” he told The Hindu .

Southern Railway has already spent Rs. 35 crore on the project, like construction of bridges for which no land acquisition is required. “Not much work can be done without land,” he said. He said the State should try to acquire land and hand it over within the first year of commencement of work.

He said work for one of the bridges could not be taken up for six months for want of earth. It was for this reason that the Karaikudi-Pattukottai gauge conversion work also suffered for over two years. “The line has been closed for 18 months and not even half a km work has been completed,” the CAO said.

Stating that flow of fund was not a constraint for executing the projects, he said for the size of the funds allocated, the Construction wing should be able to carry out works of new lines and gauge conversion for around 200 to 250 km. a year. “But, we are not able to even complete 150 km,” he said.

He said the railways faced a similar problem in Kerala, but not in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. “We would like the State government to hand over the identified location from where earth could be excavated for our projects. We are ready to pay the royalty for the same. But, control of movement of every load of earth will affect the works,” Mr. Vijayakumaran said.

He said the Railways wanted to complete the work in a single stretch as any delay in work brought additional responsibility of protecting railway properties against theft. He said railway officials have taken up these issues with the State Minister, Chief Secretary and Secretary for Transport.

  • “We need the land in four locations”

  • Officials take up issues with Minister, Chief Secretary