The State government has deliberately sabotaged the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line to push through Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s favourite Thalassery-Mysuru rail line by not placing the full facts regarding the former before Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai during ae chief ministerial-level meeting held in Bengaluru on Sunday, said technocrat E. Sreedharan on Monday. After a meeting of the two Chief Ministers on Sunday, Mr. Bommai had said that the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line cannot be agreed to as the line passes through a wildlife sanctuary.
In fact, the Nilambur-Nanjangud rail line was cleared by the Railway Ministry and included in the Railway Budget of 2013. The then UDF government engaged the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for undertaking the final location survey and sanctioned ₹6 crore for this work. It released ₹2 crore to the treasury to be passed on to the DMRC as the first instalment. The LDF government which succeeded the UDF in 2016 stopped the DMRC from going ahead with the survey and withdrew the money already cleared for the DMRC from the treasury, said Mr. Sreedharan.
“I had a discussion with the Chief Conservator of Forests, Karnataka, and the Chief Wildlife Warden then and had obtained their permission to go ahead with the work, provided the railway line is taken through an underground tunnel in front of the wildlife sanctuary. Thereafter, I met the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who also agreed to the project. Later, the Karnataka government in it letter (No. FEEB9 FLL 2A17, dated 08.11.2017) had confirmed this. I don’t think the Chief Minister or officials accompanying him had pointed out the earlier approval of the Karnataka government to this project,” he said.
Reduced rail distance
He said he had studied the Thalassery-Mysuru line which and had given a preliminary report that the line would be of no use to Kerala and was unviable with a financial return of minus 8%. Mr. Sreedharan asked when Mr. Vijayan had pointed out to his Karnataka counterpart that the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line reduces the rail distance from Kochi to Mysore by 348 km and from Kochi to Bengaluru by 72 km and that this line has already been cleared by Karnataka government. Also, such a line is strategically important to Karnataka as well since it will get easier access to Kochi and Vizhinjam ports, said Mr. Sreedharan.
Karnataka has turned down the Thalassery-Mysuru rail line route during the discussion flagging environmental concerns that the rail route will traverse through Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks causing great damage to flora and fauna.