BG conversion work may find place in Railway budget

S. Sundar

Planning Commission has given its 'in principle' approval, says Sivakasi MP A. Ravichandran

SIVAKASI: Virudhunagar-Manamadurai gauge conversion work is expected to be included in the Union Railway Budget 2006 since the Union Planning Commission has given its 'in principle' approval for it, according to the Sivakasi MP, A. Ravichandran.

"Any project with an outlay of less than Rs.100 crore, when approved by the Planning Commission, can be automatically included in the Railway Budget by the Ministry itself," Mr. Ravichandran told The Hindu .

"Usually only one or two projects get such 'in-principle' approval from the panel. Hence, this project will find a place in the ensuing railway budget in all probability," the MP exuded confidence.

This scheme need not wait for Union Cabinet clearance, mandatory for projects costing more than Rs.100 crore, he said.

Alternative route

The 63-km stretch of metre gauge was rendered an 'island' after the Railways took up gauge conversion work between Virudhunagar and Tenkasi in 2002. Once this work, along with other projects such as Manamadurai-Karaikudi and Karaikudi-Pudukottai-Tiruchi conversion works, was completed, it would serve as an alternative rail route between Virudhunagar and Tiruchi for the saturated Madurai-Dindigul-Tiruchi sector, Mr. Ravichadran said. Thus, it would facilitate running of additional train services from the southern districts to Chennai for catering to the ever-increasing demand.

Besides, it would directly connect pilgrim centres such as Nagore and Velankanni with the southern districts and provide a shorter rail route between Kanyakumari and Rameswaram.

The project will also restore the birthplaces of Ramana Maharishi (Tiruchuzhi) and Maruthu brothers (Narikudi) in the national rail map. Moreover, the plain contour in the new stretch, unlike the hilly terrain between Dindigul and Madurai, would help the railway in operating goods services, the MP said.

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