Kerala

Minister seeks State’s help for Sabari Rail

Goyal says not feasible for Railways to take the project forward

Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has asked the State to share the cost of the Angamaly-Sabarimala railway project, aimed at putting the hill shrine into the railway network, as it is “not feasible for the railways to take the project forward solely with the railway funds”.

“The Railways cannot pay for the huge escalation in the project cost due to the inaction of the State government,” Mr. Goyal said in a letter on January 11 to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

As taking forward this project showing 512% increase in project cost solely with railway funds was not possible, the Minister said.

Sharing the cost will help the Railways the much required rail link for the travelling needs of the local people and the Sabarimala pilgrims.

Since September 2019, the Railways have kept the ambitious project in abeyance and decided not to infuse fresh funds due to the State’s non-cooperation. The 116-km line, sanctioned in 1997-’98, is one of the 10 ‘stalled’ rail infrastructure projects of the Southern Railway.

Protests

In the two-page letter, Mr. Goyal has pointed out the lack of cooperation on the part of the State government and local protests against fixing the alignment and land acquisition.

Till now, the Minister said work on the seven km-Angamaly-Kalady and the long lead works on the 10 km Kalady-Perumbavoor corridor had been taken up.

The estimate of the rail line had gone up from ₹550 crore in 1997 to ₹1,234 crore in 2005, to ₹1,566 crore in 2011 and now stands at ₹2,815.62 crore.

Though the Railways provided ₹225 crore in the 2017-18 budget, not much headway could be made. In the 2019-2020 Union budget, only ₹one core was given for the line.

Mr. Goyal has said the government of India requested the State to share at least 50% of the cost. The State agreed to it and the project was identified for execution on cost-sharing basis by the joint venture Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd. with the Railways.

Within one year, the Transport Department cancelled the government order issued for cost-sharing of the railway line citing it as a sanctioned project.

“It is surprising and against the interests of developing railways in Kerala and brought into question the State government’s commitment to this important project,” the Minister said.

The proposed line would have helped over 300 lakh Ayyappa devotees visiting the Sabarimala temple during the pilgrim season. As much as 470.77 hectares is needed for the line which passes through Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 12:21:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/minister-seeks-states-help-for-sabari-rail/article30561000.ece

Next Story