KOCHI: If things go as per plan, the state’s ambitious Sabari Rail project will start rolling again. With Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail) now overseeing the reassessment of the existing project plan, the preparatory work has once again picked up momentum.With the state agreeing to bear 50% of the total cost of the 116-km rail line stretching from Angamaly to Azhutha --- `2,815.62cr as per the estimate done in 2017 --- the K-Rail officials are upbeat.
The agency has already completed the assessment of the Angamaly-Ramapuram stretch and handed over the recommendation to Indian Railways.“The project is being assessed as two stretches. For the 70-km stretch between Angamaly and Ramapuram, we have given our recommendation that we’ll be able to complete the work at the current estimated cost using modern technology. Though officials foresee a 16% escalation of cost from the estimated amount for the stretch, we will be able to avoid it through the simplified model of tendering and the latest technological advancements,” said K-Rail MD V Ajith Kumar. Earlier, the state government had promised to offer its share of the total project outlay through Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
Ajith also clarified that the majority of the alignment has already been finalised. The agency had invited tenders for conducting LiDAR, an aerial remote sensing survey method for rooting out the doubts in the route. “The alignment between Angamaly and Ramapuram is already finalised. However, there are some confusions regarding the alignment of the Ramapuram-Azhutha stretch. As railways has sought more clarity, we are going to conduct a LiDAR survey to collect the full details to assess the exact cost of construction. We have already floated the tender and will appoint a contractor soon,” he said.
K-Rail officials are expecting a positive response from Indian Railways in the next union budget. “Though we have shown our interest to Indian Railways to execute the project, it’s they who have to take a call. We have also sought the permission of the Kerala government. Once we get the recommendation from the state, we will send it to the railway board,” said Ajith Kumar.
The officials are also hopeful of finding a breakthrough in land acquisition.“As we have a better rapport with the revenue department, K-Rail can speed up the land acquisition for the project. Most of the landowners are willing to hand over land for the project and once the necessary approvals are received, we can move onto the land acquisition process,” he added.
As per government sources, the project will be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP) model, with Railways responsible for the construction and maintenance. Station development and other works will be completed as per PPP model. Once the project becomes operational, the income will be shared equally between the state and Railways, after deducting the construction expenses.
Though Rs 1 crore was allocated during the 2019-2020 Union budget, railways are yet to ‘defreeze’ the project despite Kerala evincing its interest. In the 2021-2022 Union budget, only Rs 1,000 was provided.
Conceived in: 1997
Revised alignment: 2013
Revised project estimate: 2017
Number of project revisals: Three, in 24 years
KIIFB fund allocated in: 2021
Angamaly to Azhutha (through Erumeli)
116km Total length
Total required land: 470.77 ha
Tender floated for LiDAR survey on: April 19, 2021
Project assessment: 2 stretches (Angamaly to Ramapuram: 70 km and Ramapuram to Azhutha: 46km)
Districts passing through: Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta
Initial cost C550 crore
Current project estimate: C2,815.62cr