State eyes bigger pie in Budget

Enhanced allocation for completing railway projects, including Sabari Rail

With the Union Budget expected to give a push for new trains and Assembly elections round the corner, high hopes prevail among rail users for enhanced allocation for the railway network of the State.

Kerala, which was given only a paltry allocation for prioritised projects such as doubling of the 18-km Ettumanur-Kottayam and Kottayam-Chingavanam corridors, 86.56-km Thiruvananthapuram Central-Kanyakumari, and coaching terminal at Nemom in the 2020-2021 Budget, is hoping for more allocation this time from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The State is pitching for the 529.45-km semi-high speed railway corridor SilverLine from Kochuveli to Kasaragod and Sabari Railway to bring Sabarimala onto the railway map. The detailed project report (DPR) of the SilverLine and notification for cost-sharing of the Sabari Rail are with the Centre.

But Railways are of the view that the thrust should be on completing the doubling work of the railway line via Kottayam and Alappuzha and improving the terminal facilities to bring more long-distance trains to the State.

Doubling work

Funds have been assured by Railways for completing the doubling of the 18-km Ambalappuzha-Haripad stretch and 18-km Ettumanur-Chingavanam stretch by 2022.

A sum of ₹120 crore is needed for completing the works.

The doubling of the 18-km Ettumanur-Chingavanam stretch will enable the much-needed thorough 620-km railway line from Mangaluru Junction to Thiruvananthapuram Central.

The doubling of the railway line via Alappuzha is to be completed by 2024.

The doubling of the 69-km Ernakulam-Ambalappuzha stretch and the 86.56-km Thiruvananthapuram Central-Kanyakumari have figured in Vision 2024 of Railways. A sum of ₹3,000 crore is needed for both the works and the sum had been assured in next three years, sources said. The State is also to be given funds for acquiring the needed land for Railways. It is to be seen whether the enhanced allocation for Railways this time will turn beneficial to Kerala also.

A sum of ₹500 crore has been sought for completing the doubling of the Ettumanur-Kottayam and Kottayam-Chingavanam corridors. Thus,The State needs a minimum of ₹3,500 crore for completing the much-needed doubling works of the railway line.

Chances for allocation for the ₹116-crore coaching terminal at Nemom is doubtful as Railway Board has not given the nod for the DPR. Last year, ₹50 lakh was provided for the coaching terminal from the ‘umbrella project head’ of Southern Railway. Even the push for substantial outlay of the ambitious project by BJP legislator O. Rajgaopal from the Nemom Assembly constituency has failed.

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