TIRUPATI: Denying that Andhra Pradesh has been neglected in terms of allocations in the Railway Budget 2012-13, Minister of state for railways KH Muniyappa has said that focus has been on the development of the railway network in the state to increase the rail density from to 22 percent from the current 16 percent.
Addressing a media conference at Tirupati railway station here during his routine visit on Thursday, the minister said there has been a misconception among the people that no good is being done to their state in the current railway budget.
“Many projects are planned in the South Central Railway region for the development of the railway network on priority basis. With the completion of the projects, the rail density in Andhra Pradesh will be increased to 22 percent from the current 16 percent,’’ he said.
Considering the financial constraints of Indian Railways, development is only possible with the cost sharing by the states, said the minister and expressed satisfaction over the help extended by the state government in this regard.
Terming the land acquisition as the major hurdle in the implementation of the development projects, the minister said, “States have to extend help in the process of land acquisition. Special committees have been formed under the chief secretaries of the states to review the land acquisitions made for the railway zones.” He observed that the land acquisitions are not going as expected by the Indian Railways.
“If it is done in time, we assure that all the projects taken up in the SCR region will be completed in five years,’’ he said.
Reiterating that passengers’ safety is paramount, Muniyappa said that out of the 32,000 level crossings in the country, 18,000 have been made manned level crossings (MLCs). “The rest 14,000 will be converted into MLCs by 2015. Our objective is to ensure that there will not be any casualties and loss of life at level crossings in the country by 2015,’’ he said.
Claiming that Indian Railways is the largest benefactor to the common man, the minister said railway saves 80 per cent of peoples’ expenses as compared to other modes of transport. SCR general manager GN Asthana said that out of the of the 75 new trains introduced in the current railway budget, 25 will either originate or pass through the SCR zone.
“The SCR had completed 132 km of new railway lines and constructed 25 road over bridges or road under bridges, which is a record,’’ he said. Chittoor MP N Sivaprasad, former MLA N Tippeswamy, Guntakala Divison DRM TP Singh and others were also present.