Kerala’s rail dreams come a cropper

Kerala has suffered a setback on the rail front with the Union budget providing only paltry allocation for its prioritised projects, which include completion of doubling of the Ettumanur-Kottayam and Kottayam-Chingavanam corridors, Thiruvananthapuram Central-Kanyakumari line, and the coaching terminal at Nemom.

The Pink Book of Railways, which catalogues works to be executed this year and spells out allocations , shows that the priorities of the Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad rail divisions and the wish list submitted by the State government for development of the rail network have been ignored.

Bias against State

The ‘discrimination’ of the State is evident as doubling works in Tamil Nadu have received ₹700 crore. Karnataka also has received a substantial allocation.

For the ₹500 crore sought for completing the doubling of the Ettumanur-Kottayam and Kottayam-Chingavanam corridors, Thiruvananthapuram Central- Kanyakumari line, and the coaching terminal at Nemom, the allocation given is ₹93.50 crore.

With this outlay, railway officials say only the doubling via Kottayam can be completed partially by arranging another ₹12 crore sanctioned for other works this year. A sum of ₹200 crore is needed for completing the doubling up to Ernakulam in December 2021.

Against ₹300 crore sought for doubling of the rail line to Kanyakumari, the allocation provided is ₹5 crore and ₹128.50 crore through extra budgetary resources (loan from LIC).

Doubling non-starter

Officials say doubling works will be confined to paper as land acquisition cost alone will come to ₹700 crore. The government has sought ₹207 crore from Railways for acquiring 14.80 ha for doubling 7 km from Thiruvananthapuram Central to Nemom and for the coaching terminal. The funds from the EBR can be taken only after land is acquired for the project.

A sum of ₹50 lakh has been provided for the coaching terminal at Nemom from the “umbrella project head’ of Southern Railway.

The doubling of 18.3 km from Ambalappuzha to Haripad has got an outlay of ₹13.95 crore .

Token provision has been given for patch doubling of Ernakulam-Kumbalam, Kumbalam-Turavur, Turavur-Ambalappuzha, and Shoranur-Ernakulam third line under the head doubling.

The demand for splitting intermediate block sections (IBS) of Alappuzha-Ambalappuzha (12 km) and Thurvavur-Kumbalam (17 km) for handling more trains has been ignored. But, IBS has been approved for Kumbalam-Manjeswaram, Tikkottui-Vadakara, and Vadakara-Mahe. Additional platform at the Kannur station and automated coach washing facility at Ernakulam and Kochuveli have found place.

Complete track renewal, through rail renewal and turnout renewal, has been given funds. Road safety works pertaining to level crossings, road overbridges and road underbridges, and funds for creating facilities in workshops and production lines have got outlay.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 11:07:30 PM |

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