The alleged inability of the Railways’ to fulfil the government condition regarding providing of employment to the evictees of the Sabari Rail Project is the prime reason behind the non-materialisation of the project, reveals an RTI. Land has been acquired till Mulanthuruthy for the project. But as the Railways has failed to abide by the government rider, some people are unwilling to hand over the land, which resulted in stalling of the project.
Human Rights Defence Forum state general secretary D B Binu, who filed the RTI, said that the Railways was literally mum on the queries asked via the RTI. “The Railways could not say whether the Railways recruited anyone in the Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad divisions and how many applications they had received. They said that there were no records found,” he said.
Though the Railways constantly harps on the unavailability of land to implement the project, they are not ready to take the effort to implement the project, he pointed out.
He added that the forum will approach the court in this regard.
Kumaran, an evictee of the Sabari Rail Project, said that he had given away 20 cents of land. “I had handed over the land at Marithadom in Amballur two years ago. I had given a job application for my son. Though they received it, we are yet to get any response,” he said.
Sources with the Railways alleged that a Chennai-based lobby is throttling the developmental activities in the state, including the Sabari Rail Project. “Land acquisition has always been a problem when it comes to development projects in the state. People are unwilling to give away their lands. The government has passed an order to facilitate land acquisition. But the lethargy of the Railways gave a big blow to the project,” they said.
Gopi Krishnan, secretary, Southern Railway Mazdoor Union, said that they will put pressure on the higher-ups to provide the evictees with jobs. “We will not allow any developmental projects to come to an abrupt end,” he said.
When contacted, Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agrawal declined to comment.