TAMIL NADU

Moorthy promise on rail link cheers up Namakkal

NAMAKKAL OCT. 28. The assurance given by the Minister of State for Railways, A.K. Moorthy that "positive and necessary" steps will be taken to expedite laying of a new track between Salem and Karur by 2005-2006 has delighted the people, especially traders, in Namakkal, Salem and Karur districts.

The Minister undertook an inspection of the track laying work between Karur and Namakkal on Monday. He saw the half-finished work on the bridge across the Cauvery between Vangal and Karur and visited a few more places in Namakkal and Salem districts.

Contractors, complaining of inadequate funds, have not completed works at various places.

The works have been left either half-finished or totally abandoned.

Mr. Moorthy, who was accompanied by officials from Chennai, said he would discuss the issue with the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, and also the demands of contractors. If necessary, fresh tenders could be called for expediting the project. "Further delay will harm the people."

Officials should initiate action to remove bottlenecks in land acquisition. Thirty per cent of the works were over, he said and assured the people and traders of Namakkal town that he would take steps to redress all grievances over rail facilities.

Later talking to reporters, the Minister said the project work in the Salem and Rasipuram sector would be completed by 2004. "The Railways will try to run a train between Salem and Rasipuram in 2004."

A computer reservation counter at Namakkal would also be opened before year-end provided the State Government allotted space.

"Once it allots the land, work on formation of the Salem division also can be taken up."

The public and traders of the three districts, who had been clamouring for the swift execution of the project since 1997, almost lost hopes of its becoming a reality in the near future. The Rs. 230-crore project, begun in 1997, has been beset with problems of inadequate funds and over land alienation.

The 85.5-km project reduces 40 km of rail distance. Now to go to Salem from Karur, one has to take a route via Erode.

Of the land cost of Rs. 30 crores, only Rs. 4.5 crores has been allotted. A minimum Rs. 30 crores-40 crores is needed every year to finish the project at the earliest. Once completed, it will benefit Namakkal and the surrounding towns of Mallur, Rasipuram and Mohanur.

An active trade and a poultry centre, Namakkal now depends totally on road transport. It is one of a very few district headquarters in the State which do not have a rail link.

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