Hiccups in Palakkad-Pollachi rail route commissioning

June 14, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:44 am IST - Palakkad:

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s backtracking from an earlier promise to deposit Rs.2.5 crore with the Railways to keep the level cross at Shakunthala Junction on G B Road functional has turned into a stumbling block in the case of an early commissioning of the recently gauge-converted Palakkad and Pollachi rail route.

Though the Railways have permanently closed the railway gate in the absence of release of funds from State government during last month, it requires an official letter from Palakkad District Collector informing formally that the State government dropped its plan to retain the level cross by depositing funds for its maintenance in advance.

The Collector said he had already sought permission from State government to write the letter to the Railways. In the absence of response from the State government to the Collector’s plea, even the safety inspection on the rail route is getting delayed. Shakunthala Junction is located in the middle of Palakkad Town and the new rail route passes through the junction.

“When I contacted railway officials, they told me that the safety inspection and formal inauguration are getting delayed due to the lack of official communication from District Collector. The Railways has already closed down the level cross in the absence of promised deposit from State government. However, the State government is causing further delay in the inauguration of the rail route by not sending the official letter,’’ said M.B. Rajesh, MP. 

It was after construction of a road overbridge at G B Junction that Railways decided to close down the level cross. However, the move evoked strong protest from trade and commerce bodies in the city citing inconvenience of buyers bound for Shakunthala Junction.

Former Additional Divisional Railway Manager Mohan A. Menon made it clear that the level crossing can be maintained only if the municipality or State government agree to meet its expenses.

The Railways also fixed Rs.2.5 crore as expense for 30 years to meet salary needs of the gate keeper and periodic maintenance of the gate. It also wanted the amount to be deposited in advance.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was on a visit to Palakkad last year, promised the trade and commercial bodies that the State government would deposit the amount and keep the level cross operational.

Govt. promise

However, the State government went back from its promise later and the level crossing was closed. Now the communication gap is turning a stumbling block in commissioning the rail route.

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