Just as people in Coastal Karnataka are demanding merger of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., (KRCL) with the Indian Railways, people in Konkan region of Maharashtra too have made a similar demand saying KRCL might take four decades to align with IR infrastructure standards because of lack of funds.
Mumbai-based Konkan Vikas Samiti, representing Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg regions of the Konkan region in Maharashtra, has said financial constraints of KRCL have impeded the progress and expansion of the vital railway network, thereby hindering the growth opportunities of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.
Samiti founding chairman Jaywant Shankar Darekar told The Hindu that the doubling project undertaken by KRCL about six years ago was not progressing well even as platforms at many intermediate stations were at low-level inconveniencing passengers.
It wrote a letter to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on November 30, highlighting the inadequacies of KRCL and demanding its merger with the Railways. The merger should ensure integration of the Roha-Madgaon section of KRCL with the Central Railway’s Mumbai Division and Madgaon-Mangaluru section with South Western Railway’s Mysuru Division, he said.
This integration, Mr. Darekar said bridges crucial gaps in the transportation network; enables seamless travel between Mumbai and Konkan region and between Karnataka coast and Bengaluru; expedites major infrastructure projects; establishes a dedicated freight corridor along the West Coast, develops terminal facilities at Sawantwadi, Ratnagiri and Karwar and achieves these projects becoming a reality within 10 years as against projected 40-50 years if under KRCL.
He further said KRCL collects a unique surcharge of 40% from passengers and 50% from freight traffic burdening the common man. This scenario would change if it is merged with the Railways.
The excuses of ‘funds constraint’ constantly being given by KRCL for any development work, thus would mitigate if the network is brought under Indian Railways, Mr. Darekar noted.
Endorsing Samiti’s views, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg MP Vinayak Raut too wrote to Mr. Vaishnaw on December 6 stating that KRCL’s inability to augment infrastructure was severely affecting Konkan region’s growth in Maharashtra. Therefore, it should be merged with Indian Railways for the overall development of the region, he said.