Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Very few of State's demands met

Very few of State's demands met

The Hindu

BANGALORE: People have little to cheer about the Railway Budget although Karnataka has got greater share of funds compared to last year. Although the numbers look impressive with a majority of the projects sought by the State Government having got allocations, passenger amenities have barely been touched. Long-pending demands such as a separate division for Gulbarga and trains to cities such as Jammu have remained unfulfilled.

Although Railway Minister Lalu Prasad announced operation of passenger trains between Bangalore and Mangalore in his last budget, it remains on paper even with the present budget. The rail link between the capital and the port town was discontinued about a decade ago, with allegations of the road transport lobby blocking resumption of train services.

Mangalore Railway Station continues to remain under Palakkad Division of Southern Railway despite repeated pleas to bring it under Mysore Division of South-Western Railway. This, people of the region say, is to help the creation of Salem Division in the home State of the Minister of State for Railways R. Velu.

The allocation of Rs. 31 crore for the new line between Shravanabelagola and Bangalore is considered inadequate. Expediting the completion of this much delayed line will provide a direct link between Bangalore and Hassan and thence to Mangalore.

According to Bangalore South Lok Sabha Member H.N. Ananth Kumar, the State had been given a raw deal though the South Western Railway had provided an operational surplus of Rs. 639 crore during the last fiscal. The long-pending demands for daily trains from Bangalore to Ajmer, Varanasi, Jaipur and Hubli-Mumbai had not been considered, he said.

The budget has announced three new services, extension of the existing two and extension of frequency of six trains. However, their benefit for Karnataka is limited as they are largely favourable to other States. New trains between Bagalkot and Bijapur and Bagalkot and Solapur benefit only a part of the State, while the Garib Rath, people feel, should have been between Bangalore and Delhi. Similarly, the new train between Yeshwanthpur and Gorakhpur is of no use as there is already one between Bangalore City and Gorakhpur.

Rajasthan Samaj Railway Sangharsh Samithi president Prakash Mandoth said the budget had not addressed a majority of the demands from the State, including new line between Krishnarajanagar and Kushalnagar and Shimoga and Harihar. It had ignored issues of line doubling between Tumkur and Hubli; new lines between Raichur-Gadwal, Kadur-Chikmaglur-Sakaleshpur, Munirabad-Mehaboob Nagar and gauge conversion between Chickballapur-Kolar, Anandapura-Talaguppa, Chickballapur-Madanapalli Road and Mysore-Chamarajanagar. Against popular demand for new lines between Hubli and Ankola and Bidar and Gulbarga, the Minister had allocated Rs. 5 crore and Rs. 20 crore respectively.

Mr. Mandoth said the budget did not provide a new intercity train between Shimoga and Bangalore and one more night train between Bangalore and Hubli, which were badly needed.

The Railways made allocations for 15 of the 20 projects sought by the Government and State's allocation had almost doubled from Rs. 241 crore last year to Rs. 468 crore, according to official sources.

The Chief Minister had sought approval to 10 projects, including Hubli-Ankola rail line and expeditious implementation of as many projects in 2007-08. The projects that did not get the Railway Ministry's nod are: Shahabad (Gulbarga district)-Bagalkot-Kuduchi (Belgaum district), Chamarajanagar-Kanakapura-Bangalore, Talagupppa-Honnavar, Gadag-Haveri, Holenarasimjpura-Kushalngar and Shomoga-Harihar lines. Although many of the demands of Karnataka had been conceded by Mr. Lalu Prasad, the State needed more, especially considering that the Railways had earned a profit of over Rs. 20,000 crore, which it expected to increase to Rs. 30,000 in the next financial year.


Post a Comment

<< Home