KOCHI: Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda on Thursday said that the State Government should bear 50 per cent of the combined costs, including the value of land, if the Railway projects of Kerala are to be implemented.
He said that in states like Karnataka, land was provided by the government to the Railways for free. “In Kerala, however, we demand that the government bear 50 per cent of the total cost, including the land value. Unless the State Government is willing to take initiative in this regard, the Railway Ministry will not be able to consider Kerala’s infrastructure needs. The issue has been brought before the notice of the Chief Minister,” he said.
The Minister was speaking to reporters at the Ernakulam Junction railway station on Thursday.
He said that it would not be possible to give exemption to Kerala on sharing the cost of Railway projects, in view of the constraints in the availability of land.
He pointed out that even a small state like Jharkhand was willing to offer land for free, and also to bear 60 per cent of the project cost.
“In Karnataka, the government has willingly given free land for Railway projects. In Kerala, we are not asking the government to give away land for free. We only demand that the government should be willing to bear 50 percent of the combined cost of the project, including the value of land.”
The Minister further noted that though the State Government had initially promised to extend support to the suburban railway project it backtracked on the promise. The government should provide 100 per cent funding to make the project a reality.
“It is learned that the Chief Minister has said that 50 per cent of the cost of the project should be borne by the Railways. However, the request is that Kerala fund the project fully. An Onam special train from Pune will be launched, considering the demand of the public. He said that the four new trains that have been declared for the people of Kerala would be introduced by the end of the year. I have already cleared the files,” he said.
The Minister said that the Ernakulam Junction railway station would be upgraded to one with world class standards, and that at least 10 railway stations will be upgraded.
“Private players can set up malls, theatres and five star hotels in the buildings attacked to these stations. Olny the ground floor will be used by the Railways,” he added. The Railways will observe ‘Swachata Abhiyan’ on October 2. As per the plan, railway stations and their premises across the country will be cleaned.