Railway Minister Aryadan Mohammed on Friday said that railway development is not taking place in the state primarily due to difficulties in acquiring land and red earth for track doubling and other activities.
“The railways is not responsible for the slow growth of our railway infrastructure, the onus lies on the public and the state,” he said.
He was speaking during the inauguration of the second escalator and parcel office at Ernakulam junction railway station on Friday.
Union Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies K V Thomas inaugurated the escalator.
“Many projects, including the speedy completion of doubling of Ernakulam-Kottayam and Ernakulam-Alappuzha tracks, have become almost impossible due to the tussle over land acquisition. The public should be willing to give land for the purpose of development. Doubling is the only way to get more trains. The people should realise development of railways is one of the key factors of growth in the state,” Aryadan Mohammed said.
Even though the railways had allocated sufficient funds to the state last year, most of it had lapsed due to problems in land acquisition.
He also cited unfinished projects like Sabari rail project and doubling works in the northern parts of Kerala. Thomas said he has asked the railways to allocate `50 crore exclusively for the development of Ernakulam Junction station in the next railway budget. He also added that several requests regarding the railways’ development for the state were made to Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge three months ago.
He told Southern Railways General Manager Rakesh Misra, who was present during the function, to ensure that the needs of the state, especially Ernakulam, are considered.
In the wake of the development of the metro rail project in Kochi, it is mandatory that the railways take extra steps to ensure the development of Tripunithura, Kalamassery and Edappally stations, he said.
Thomas added that it is the need of the hour to develop Harbour Terminus station at Willingdon Island and Old Railway station near High Court. “If the station at Willingdon Island is developed, rice and grain could be transported,” he added.
The Minister said demands have been forwarded to the Railway Minister regarding the introduction of the Ernakulam-Bangalore Duronto Express. Also, stops should be allotted to major trains in other stations in Ernakulam.
The Minister made requests to extend the Guruvayoor-Ernakulam Passenger to Tripunithura.
Rakesh Misra said efforts are being made in earnest to ensure the development of Ernakulam Junction station into a world-class station.
“Kitco has been entrusted with the task of preparing a report for the development of the station. They have submitted a very good and conceptual plan already. We will submit the report to the Railway board within 15-20 days,” he said.
He asked Thomas to ensure that the project is given a push. He applauded the government’s efforts to introduce suburban rail in the state.
“We are considering the construction of Thiruvananthapuram-Kayamkulam suburban transport system. Later, the suburban rail will be extended to Ernakulam. We will soon get the report from Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd, the agency which has been entrusted with the work, for this purpose. We will check out the feasibility of the cost for the state government and then the project will be considered,” he said.
MLAs Benny Behanan, Hibi Eden, Dominic Presentation, MP Charles Dias, Mayor Tony Chammany, Deputy Mayor B Bhadra, KMRL MD Elias George, DMRC Project Director P Sriram and district panchayat president Eldhose Kunnappilly were also present.