Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Delay in land acquisition hampers rail projects

Delay on the part of the government in acquiring land and the reluctance of the local people to part with their land is delaying the commissioning of railway projects in the State. The government is yet to hand over land to the railways for the doubling of the highly congested Ernakulam-Kayamkulam stretch, via Kottayam and Alappuzha.

A review meeting chaired by Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed here recently had expressed concern over the delay in land acquisition. The Fast Track mechanism introduced to expedite the process has also not worked out. The only solace is that doubling of the 18-km Ernakulam-Mulanthurthi and 8-km Mavelikara-Kayamkulam stretches has been completed. The two stretches are awaiting the nod of the Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS) for commissioning.

Railway officials said the State was yet to acquire land for doubling of the 90-km Chengannur-Mulanthurthi stretch. Land had been made available for doubling of the 16 km Kayamkulam-Haripad stretch. Notification for acquiring land for doubling the Haripad-Alappuzha stretch was yet to be issued.

Sixty-three hectares land is needed for doubling of the 73-km stretch between Kurupanthara and Chengannur. Though notification for acquiring land for the Mulanthuruthy-Kurupanthara stretch has been issued, railway sources said many hurdles have to be overcome before the project goes on stream. Only 7.83 hectares of the 517 hectares needed for the Sabari railway line have been handed over to the railways. The railways had deposited Rs. 50 crore for acquiring land against the Rs. 400 crore needed.

In the case of the Rs.131.71-crore Tirunavaya-Guruvayur new line, the opposition against the new alignment is posing hurdles to the railways. A sum of Rs. 26.74 crore had been sanctioned in the 2009-10 budget and Rs.8.69 crore had been spent by the railways for the project till March last. Railway sources said Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had not yet convened a meeting to sort out the issues. Funds for the project would lapse if the State government does not settle the issue.

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