Budget derails State’s hopes

Kerala’s hopes of a better deal in outlay and thrust on development of the rail network in the Union Budget 2018-19 had been dashed with the Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad railway divisions getting a meagre outlay of only ₹9,23 crore compared to ₹1,206 crore in 2017-18 and four-prioritised “viable cost-sharing projects” failing to make it to the Pink Book.

The coach terminal proposed on 12.14 hectares owned by Railways adjacent to the Nemom station also did not figure on the list despite the ₹67-crore proposal for Phase I being forwarded to the Railway Board for inclusion in Works Programme 2018-19.

The only solace of the State is the nod for the third railway line from Ernakulam to Shoranur at an estimated cost of ₹1,518 crore. But only ₹10 lakh had been allocated in the budget for the third line along the busy 107-km corridor from the commercial capital.

The ambitious 116-km Sabari railway line from Angamaly to Erumely, which aims at putting Sabarimala on the railway map of the country, has been given ₹219 crore in the budget compared to ₹225 crore allocated in 2017-18.

‘Meagre allocation’

Doubling and electrification of the 86.56-km Thiruvananthapuram Central-Kanyakumari railway line has got an outlay of ₹110 crore for next fiscal and doubling of the tracks in the State ₹342 crore. The much-delayed doubling work via Kottayam has been given ₹82 crore and via Alappuzha ₹37 crore. Railway officials say the allocation is meagre and will not take the doubling anywhere near commissioning.

There are allocations for Kochuveli yard development - ₹10 lakh, Marshalling Yard at Ernakulam - ₹50 lakh and additional platforms at Kannur and Mangaluru - ₹40 lakh.

Allocation for improving passenger amenities, track renewal, gauge conversion, yard remodelling, signalling and telecommunication, and road safety works has got meagre outlay.

The State has pushed for the third and fourth lines along the 574-km Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod corridor, rail corridor from Thalassery to Mysuru, broad gauge rail connectivity to the Vizhinjam seaport, and renovation and conversion of the old Ernakulam station into a hub for train operations to be executed under joint venture Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited.

‘148% increase’

However, the Railway Board in a tweet, said Kerala has got a 148% increase in the allocation in the 2018-19 budget when compared to the ₹372 crore on an average during 2009-14 period. As many as 10 projects costing ₹7,017 crore for 738 km are under execution. The State had received a hike of ₹92 crore last year in the General Budget compared to 2016-17.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 3:36:49 am |