एरनाकुलम Ernakulam (ERS): Union Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda has ruled out a separate railway zone for Kerala at least for the time being.
Addressing a press conference at Ernakulam junction railway station on Thursday, Mr. Gowda categorically said that a separate zone for the State may not be possible at this juncture, notwithstanding the overwhelming demand for the same.
A.P. bifurcation cannot be the example
He fell back on the division of Andhra Pradesh for denying the persistent demand. “The State of Andhra remains separated and under the State reorganisation bill, certain railway projects already agreed in writing need to be granted. But it does not mean that Kerala would be deprived of its need of a railway zone, which will be considered at an appropriate time,” Mr. Gowda said.
Asked about the long-delayed Kanjikode rail coach factory, the Minister attributed the stalemate to the absence of potential bidders for the project. The project, proposed in the PPP model, was sanctioned in the 2012-13 Railway Budget at an estimated cost of Rs.550 crore, excluding the land, which was to be given by the State. Quoting extensively from a detailed booklet prepared by railway officials on the demands of the State, Mr. Gowda said the Request for Quotation floated on September 9, 2013, failed to invoke any response.
“Further action is under way to redo the bidding process after a review of the business model. A decision will be taken as soon as someone comes forward,” he said.
Later in the day, Mr. Gowda held a high-level meeting with railway officials to discuss various issues related to the Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram railway divisions. Emerging from the meeting held at the guesthouse, Mr. Gowda said it was an exhaustive meeting with officials during which the demands raised by the MPs from the State were discussed in detail.
“Everything from unmanned level-crossing to cleanliness were discussed. Our general manager made a highly informative presentation also,” the Minister said.