Kerala

With elevated rail corridor, Railways may abandon Sabari project

The proposed elevated railway corridor from Chengannur to Pampa, the base station of the Sabarimala temple, is likely to raise the red flag for the Sabari Railway Project that was sanctioned 25 years ago.

Sources said Railways had recently invited a tender to hold a techno-economic feasibility study (TEFS) for the Chengannur-Pampa rapid rail transit project. If the new project is found feasible, the Southern Railway is most likely to abandon the 116-km Angamaly-Sabarimala project, which was sanctioned in 1997-98. The initial estimate for the Sabari project was ₹550 crore and it was later revised to ₹3,448 crore.

Technocrat E. Sreedharan said there was no need to pursue the old project which was opposed by the local people in 2007 because of alignment issues. On the cost factor, he said the current estimated project cost of the Sabari project, ₹3,448 crore, was not realistic. Its cost would come to at least ₹10,000 crore on completion, said Mr. Sreedharan.

Protest

Railways had taken up work on the Angamaly-Kalady (7 km) and Kalady-Perumbavoor (10 km) stretches soon after the project was sanctioned. However, further works could not be taken forward due to protests by local people against land acquisition and the alignment of the line and court cases against the project.

After a long hiatus and persuasion, the State government had conveyed its willingness to share 50% of the total project cost of the Angamaly-Sabarimala project through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) in 2021, subject to the condition that operation and maintenance of the track shall be done by the Ministry of Railways while the stations along the route will be developed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) through public-private partnership route and the net revenue realised by the SPV will be shared on a 50:50 basis between the State government and the Ministry of Railways, after offsetting the cost of operation and maintenance.

Accordingly, K-Rail, the joint venture company of the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways, completed the Final Location Survey (FLS) and submitted the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and Detailed Estimate (DE) of the full project to Southern Railways on June 23, 2022. However, the chances are very low for the revival of the quarter century old project.


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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 7:26:28 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/with-elevated-rail-corridor-railways-may-abandon-sabari-project/article65768957.ece