Hope for Kanjikode project as India keen to stop import of rail coaches

Hope for Kanjikode project as India keen to stop import of rail coaches

Thiruvananthapuram: The project to set up a railway coach factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad district of Kerala is likely to receive a fresh lease of life following a recent announcement by Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw that India would cease import of railway coaches. After the minister made the statement, BJP and RSS leaders from Kerala had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to have a rethink on the factory.

Moreover, Modi has said on several occasions that the country itself should build coaches for its needs. Incidentally, a member of the Railway Board who had regularly been demanding import of coaches has been asked to go on leave by the Railway Minister.

Meanwhile, officials of the Railways have been directed by the government to include the Kanjikode coach factory in the Pragati portal, which lists the major projects in the country directly monitored by the Prime Minister.

The BJP is also hoping to gain politically by promoting the factory as the project area is located in an area where the party has a strong presence.

A flashback

The Railways had announced the coach factory at Kanjikode back in 2006 to compensate Kerala for its losses after the formation of the Salem Railway Division. Soon, the state government acquired 439 acres of land to set up the factory and handed it over to the Railways for which the latter paid Rs 32.44 crore. At that time, the project was estimated to cost Rs 550 crore. But now, the amount is expected to be double this figure.

Subsequently, on February 21, 2011, even though the foundation stone for the factory was laid, there has been no follow-up. The Railways built a fence around the acquired land, which is currently virtually abandoned and overgrown with vegetation.

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