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Land acquisition derailing pace of Pollachi – Podanur gauge conversion

The process of land acquisition for 20.5 km in six revenue villages along the Podanur – Pollachi section was derailing the pace of gauge conversion works, railway officials said.

Senior officials from the Construction Wing of Southern Railway, Chennai, led by Chief Administrative Officer K. Vijayakumar inspected the ongoing works from Podanur to Pollachi.

Mr. Vijayakumar said that Southern Railway was already on the job of co-ordinating with the State Government for expediting land acquisition in Kinathukkadavu, Chettipalayam, Nallattipalayam, Kodangipalayam, Solavampalayam and Arasampalayam.

Operation of trains on the meter gauge section was suspended to enable gauge conversion works as early as 2009. The Coimbatore – Pollachi – Dindigul section gauge conversion for 160 km and Pollachi – Palakkad section work for 50 km were taken up at a cost of Rs. 568 crore.

Officials said that works in respect of gauge conversion from Dindigul to Palani had been completed and after inspection by the Commissioner of Rail Safety, the line would be thrown open for passenger train traffic by September 2012.

Gauge conversion works in respect of Palani and Pollachi sections have neared 70 per cent completion and the remaining work was being expedited.

It would be completed before the end of this year. Works in respect of gauge conversion on the Pollachi – Palakkad section was getting delayed because of too many bridges and problems related to erection of pillars for the bridges. In addition to this, contractual failure and change of contractor for Mudhalamada section also contributed to the delay.

Mr. Vijayakumar said that the Commissioner of Land Administration, Chennai, and the Coimbatore District Administration were taking steps to expedite the land acquisition process in respect of the works relating to the Podanur – Pollachi section.

After an inordinate delay, the Southern Railway had earlier fixed March 2012 as the deadline for the completion of the gauge conversion for the entire 210 km. But owing to contractual failures, land acquisition delay and rains, the works were delayed.

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