Why do Railway projects in Kerala get derailed?

Kochi: Several crucial railway projects in Kerala are stalled with the Railways refusing to sanction the adequate funds and displaying a lack of interest.

They include the doubling of the Ambalapuzha-Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram – Kanyakumari sections, Nemom terminal work, Angamaly – Erumeli Sabari track and Ernakulam Ponnurunni terminal work.

Thiruvananthapuram–Kanyakumari doubling

Funds are allotted for railway projects in the budget under two heads: capital investment and extra-budgetary resource (EBR). In the projects implemented by the Railways in Kerala, EBR is usually higher than the capital investment. For instance, while an amount of Rs 275 crore was allotted for Thiruvananthapuram – Kanyakumari track doubling in the latest budget, Rs 125 crore was the capital investment and the remaining Rs 150 crore was EBR. However, according to estimates, another Rs 2,500 crore is needed to complete the project. Moreover, the Rs 125 crore allotted was shared by Kerala and Tamil Nadu as the track passes through both states. Meanwhile, it is pointed out that an amount of Rs 207 crore would be needed for land acquisition for the doubling of the seven-km Thiruvananthapuram-Nemom stretch alone of the 87-km section. Similarly, the Rs 150 crore set apart as EBR cannot be spent before acquiring the land.

Alappuzha double track

Yet another reflection o the Railways’ callousness is the allotment of a mere Rs 30 crore as EBR for the doubling work along with Alappuzha which has an estimate of 2,478 crores. In this section also, land acquisition is yet to take place. Shockingly, the capital investment for this work is nil. Even though the state government has already issued a notification for land acquisition here, the Railways has set apart no money to be deposited at the Collectorate to carry out further procedures. Even though a revised estimate also was also prepared, the Railway Board did not clear it. Moreover, as EBR cannot be utilized for land acquisition, the project has come to a halt.

Sabari project

Meanwhile, the state government informed the Railways that it would meet half the cost of the Sabari project with Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) money, but the Central Government did not revoke its decision to abandon the project.

Other projects in limbo

Nemom terminal – No funds allotted. Moreover, the Railway Board did not clear the estimate.

Ernakulam Ponnurunni terminal – No sanction to prepare a detailed project report (DPR).

Kochuveli third phase expansion – Rs 3.5 crore allotted in place of Rs 38 crore. Work proceeding at a slow pace.

Automatic coach washing plants at Kochuveli and Ernakulam – No funds.

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