MADURAI: The absence of a railway line from Madurai is set to escalate by several crores the cost of setting up the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) at Bodi West Hills in Theni district.
According to sources, as many as 15,000 iron sheets weighing 3.5 to 4 tonnes each have to be transported to the underground laboratory. In the absence of a railway line, roads have to used to transport these, resulting in spending of several crores of rupees.
The estimate of the project, which was earlier pegged at `1,350 crore, has been raised to `1,500 crore only recently. “A railway line connecting Bodi with Madurai could have been crucial as we could have easily transported the iron sheets. Now that the project doesn’t seem to be completed in the near future, we will have to take it via road, which would cost extra,” said Naba K Mondal, Project Director of the INO.
A metre gauge line connecting Bodi and Madurai, commissioned way back in 1928 by the then British government to transport spices from the region, was shut in the fag end of 2010 on the promise that it would be converted into a broad gauge track. “If there was no plan for speedy conversion of 90.41 km metre gauge line, which was lifeline for the traders and farmers, then why it had to be closed so quickly,” questioned N Jegatheesan, President, Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Though the broad gauge line was sanctioned in 2010, fund was never allotted, Jegatheesan said. The recent rail budget also gave it a miss, he added.