MYSORE: Even as Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal repeatedly saying that Centre has shelved the vexatious Thalassery-Mysuru Railway Line project via South Kodagu which has run into opposition from elected representatives, environmentalists and people of Kodagu district, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Information Technology K.J. Alphons has said that the Centre will support the project and will provide 20 percent of the investment cost.
Kannanthanam Joseph Alphons, who hails from Kerala, was speaking after inaugurating a workshop-cum-seminar on ‘Development of Tourism in Wayanad’, organised by the Wayanad Chamber of Commerce in association with the District Tourism Promotion Council and the Wayanad Tourism Organisation at Kalpetta in Kerala yesterday.
Mentioning about Thalassery-Manandavadi-Mysuru and Nilambur-Sulthan Batheri-Nanjangud Railway link projects, Alphons said he would provide all support to make the dream of the people of Kerala come true. The total project cost of the 181-kilometre Thalassery-Mysuru Railway Line is over Rs.5,000.03 crore.
Meanwhile, Railway sources said that the office of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is pushing for the Thalassery-Mysuru Railway Line and the project has now been revised and renamed as Kannur seaport-airport-Wayanad-Coorg-Mysuru rail route, with links to Kozhikode from Manandavadi and from there to Mysuru via South Kodagu.
Apart from the controversial Thalassery-Mysuru line, the Kerala government is also pushing for the Nilambur-Nanjangud Railway Line which is said to be the shortest rail route from Kerala to Bengaluru.
This particular line will pass through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Mudumalai and Masinagudi Forests, destroying hundreds of acres of green belt and elephant corridor. Railway sources said that the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) has been engaged by the Kerala Government to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line. Earlier, the DPR task was given to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that withdrew from the project.
The DMRC could not get the clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to carry out the survey of the forest and sanctuary areas in Karnataka and Kerala, and thus it abandoned the project.
Now the KRDCL has been entrusted with the work after the Kerala Government took approval of the MoEFCC and the Ministry of Railways to do the survey in forests of Karnataka and Kerala. It has also been asked to secure the recommendation of both the Forest Departments in Kerala and Karnataka.
When the DPR preparing task was handled by the DMRC, its Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan had stated that the Nilambur-Nanjangud line can be completed without disturbing wildlife in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. He had given a proposal involving tunnel construction with the use of tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), which would cause minimum impact to surrounding areas.
However, the Karnataka Forest Department had not received any proposal for the railway line. Sources said that the Kerala Government was pushing for the Nilambur–Nanjangud, Thalassery–Mysuru and Chamarajnagar–Mettupalayam line as they would greatly reduce travel time from Karnataka to Kerala and Tamil Nadu and also help Kerala commercially.