BENGALURU: The crucial doubling line project between Yelahanka and Penukonda of the South Western Railway Zone will now be completed only by October due to delays in land acquisition. The Covid lockdowns and labour issues also threw a spanner in the works. A total of 48 km is yet to be completed out of the 120.55-km stretch of this line. The project was sanctioned in the financial year 2015-2016.
A reliable source told TNIE that parcels of land required in Rangepalli in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh have emerged as a major bone of contention. “Even on Tuesday (July 20), farmers protested by squatting on the railway tracks near Rangepalli over the issue,” he said. A total of 48.2 km of the line falls in AP and the rest in Karnataka.
SWR is yet to acquire 23.2 acres required for the project. There are two categories of disgruntled land owners. “One section has given the land to the Railways and are worried that their compensation will not be paid fully if the project gets completed. Another section does not want to part with their land and are protesting against it,” the source said. He expressed optimism that the issues will be resolved within a fortnight.
“We had set a target of September this year for completion, but now we are looking at October-end,” he added.The series of lockdowns and shortage of labour force, too, delayed the project. However, the line has been completed in phases and those stretches made operational.
The 36-km stretch between Makalidurga and Devarapalli was commissioned on April 5, 2019, while the stretch between Yelahanka and Makalidurga was commissioned on February 25, 2021. As per data made available by the SWR, the total cost of the project is expected to be Rs 988.37 crore at the time of completion. Another source said, “More trains can be run when the line is fully doubled. Trains can be run from KSR Bengaluru or Yesvantpur towards AP, Delhi and in the Hubballi direction.” No one in the Railways gave specifics on the cost escalation expected for the doubling project due to the delay in completion.