Three key projects unlikely to get funds in rail Budget

SilverLine, Nemom coaching terminal, Sabari Rail to be hit

Three key projects, two of them to be executed on 50:50 cost-sharing basis between the State and Railways, aimed at the upgrade of Kerala’s railway network and speedier travel are unlikely to get sufficient allocation in the Union Budget.

The 529.45-km semi-high speed rail SilverLine, billed as a game-changer in State’s infrastructure as well as economic development, is yet to receive the nod of Railways and the Centre.

Although Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is pursuing the new line from Kochuveli to Kasaragod with special interest despite opposition from various quarters, Railways are yet to give its approval to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) submitted by Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail), a joint venture of Railways and the State. Official sources said the chances of the project figuring in the Budget were bleak as the DPR had not been cleared.

Coaching terminal

The delay on the part of the Railway Board to give approval to the DPR for the ₹116.57-crore Phase I of the Nemom coaching terminal will again confine the project to paper. The coaching terminal, whose foundation stone was laid, had failed to get capital in the previous Union Budget as ₹50 lakh was made available from the Safety Fund.

The DPR for the terminal has been lying with the Railway Board since November 2, 2019. The foundation stone was laid by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal through videoconferencing on March 7, 2019 when the file was still pending with the Finance wing of the Southern Railways, Chennai.

The third key project that is likely to be hit will be the 111.2-km Angamali-Erumeli Sabari Rail aimed at putting the Sabarimala temple into the railway network. The project has got a new lease of life with Kerala agreeing on January 6, 2021 to bear 50% of the estimated ₹2,815.62 crore through the KIIFB.

The official notification of January 7, 2021 by the State, that states that the income received will be shared on 50:50 between the State and Railways after deducting the expense incurred, has reached Railways. The Transport Department had earlier cancelled a government order issued during the tenure of the previous UDF government for cost-sharing, saying that Sabari Rail was a sanctioned project of Railways.

Railways are sceptical of the present move and see it as one aimed at the forthcoming elections to the Assembly, sources added.

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