Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rs 600 crore grant to speed up railway projects in state

The Ministry of Railways and the state government have worked out an arrangement to release additional grants to the tune of over Rs 600 crore, contributing Rs 300 crore each. (AP/File)

In his first gesture for his home state Karnataka, Railways Minister Mallikarjun M Kharge has put on fast-track several long pending projects, including the Kottur-Harihar and Kadur-Chikmagalur lines and the gauge conversion of Kolar-Chikballapur line.

At a meeting here on Monday, the Ministry of Railways and the state government worked out an arrangement to release additional grants to the tune of over Rs 600 crore. The state government and the railways would release Rs 300 crore each.

Kharge, who reviewed the status of the projects, said the additional grants would be utilised to speed up ongoing projects, which were taken up on a cost-sharing basis.

The total funds earmarked to complete the works for 2013-14 would be about Rs 1,200 crore.

“With this, the pace of several works taken up for doubling, electrification and laying new lines in the state will get a boost,” he said.

A decision to release additional grants for the ongoing projects was taken at the review meeting with senior-level officials of the state government, including Chief Secretary S V Ranganath, Principal Secretary to PWD Venkataiah and General Managers of South Central Railways (DCR), South Western Railways (SWR) and Central Railways (CR).

According to Kharge, there are small hiccups involving land acquisition for the Kadur-Chikmagalur new line.

“The state government officials who were present at the meeting promised to clear the hurdles as early as possible. The Kadur-Chikmagalur line is expected to be commissioned by November,” he said.

The Kolar-Chikballapur gauge conversion, to be completed by December-end, is also facing land acquisition problem and the state government is yet to hand it over to the railway authorities.

Work on the Gadwal-Raichur line is expected to be commissioned by August 15. Kharge said it was also decided to advance the commissioning of the Hutgi-Gulbarga doubling by one year. It was supposed to be completed by 2015-16.

The new Hassan-Bangalore line has encountered land acquisition problem near Kunigal stud farm, he said. The Chief Secretary has promised to solve it expeditiously, he added.

The Bidar-Gulbarga new railway line was completed till Humnabad section in Bidar district and shuttle services would be operated on it soon.

Kharge hinted that it would take another two to three years for the Humnabad-Gulbarga section to be completed, and the process of inviting tenders for the construction of the 1.5 km tunnel in that line has begun.

Attributing the delay in completing the doubling work of Mysore-Bangalore section to the relocation of Tipu Sultan’s armoury near Srirangapatna, he said: “By securing permission from the Archeological Survey of India to relocate the historical structure, all hurdles have been cleared now.”

Kharge ruled out the possibilities of hiking railway fares now. “The burden of increase in the prices of petroleum products would be absolved by the Ministry and will not be 
transferred to commuters,” he said.