Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bangalore-Mysore twin track in limbo

Bangalore-Mysore twin track in limbo
The Hindu

MYSORE, FEB. 22. While the Centre is keen on extending the track doubling work that is in progress between Bangalore and Ramanagaram, to Mysore, the State Government has been dragging its feet.

According to those lobbying with the Government for the past two years to expedite the project, the Centre is ready to take up the track doubling work on a cost-sharing basis and wants the State Government to meet 60 per cent of the expenditure, estimated at Rs. 500 crores (track doubling and electrification), with the remainder to be raised by the Railways.

Little interest

But the State Government did not evince sufficient interest although the then Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, made an announcement in Mandya last year that the doubling of the railway track between the two cities would be taken up on priority.

It is learnt that the Centre had sought 60 per cent contribution from the State Government. But the State was slow in reacting and gave its consent only in May and agreed to meet 50 per cent of the cost.

Members of the Karnataka Nagarika Hitarakshana Vedike, led by the former MLA A. Ramdas, met the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, recently and sought the Government's consent to meet 60 per cent of the cost in view of the project's importance for the all-round development of the Mysore-Mandya-Chamarajanagar region. Mr. Ramdas told The Hindu that the vedike members only got an assurance from the Chief Minister that the Government will consider the matter.

Urban corridor

Doubling of railway line has been a long-pending demand of the people in Mysore-Bangalore region. It has a socio-economic bearing as the stretch between the two cities is emerging as an "urban corridor," with clusters of settlements along the route, which are projected to register a phenomenal growth in the years ahead. The existing infrastructure is inadequate to cope with the population pressure, and doubling of the railway track will considerably ease the pressure on the public transport system.

The 139-km stretch between the two cities is covered in three hours by express trains, but there are similar urban corridors elsewhere in the country, such as the Delhi-Mathura one, where a similar distance is covered in less than two hours. Investors looking for an alternative to Bangalore have zeroed in on Mysore as the most preferred destination, but the commuting time of three hours is proving to be a deterrent.

Time reduction

The benefits of the project have been acknowledged by many including the chambers of commerce and industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and leading investment specialists who foresee a bright future for Mysore if it is serviced by a twin railway line that could help reduce the commuting time to Bangalore to 90 minutes.

The benefits of the project also include decongestion of Bangalore; economic development and growth along the urban corridor due to dispersal of industries, employees and business and commerce; higher tax yields; income generation through development cess; boost to tourism; reduction in the lead time for industries seeking quick transportation of their product at short notice; faster movement of high-value but perishable agricultural and horticultural produce from Mysore and surrounding regions to Bangalore; increase in foreign investment in Mysore; and growth of the service sector.

Station upgrading

The Nagarika Hitarakshana Vedike has also called for upgrading the Mysore Railway Station to facilitate the operation of 24-bogie rakes as against 18-bogie rakes at present. This will facilitate long-distance super-fast trains to operate from Mysore.


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