State to bear 50 per cent of the cost of project. The new rail link would cut short distance by about 300 km from north Kerala to Bengaluru.
Thiruvananthapuram: The Union Ministry of Railways has decided to carry out a re-survey for the long-pending Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line. The prospects of taking up the long-cherished Kanhangad-Kaniyooru rail line that provides the easiest access from north Kerala to Bengaluru have brightened after a delegation of MPs from Kerala along with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy submitted a memorandum to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi on Friday.
Previously Principal Adviser of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) E. Sreedharan had submitted a report suggesting a detailed survey on the feasibility of the project.
The memorandum listing out the State’s rail development aspirations also called for taking up work on the new railway link, with the State in principle agreeing to bear 50 per cent of the cost of the project by facilitating land acquisition for the 40-km stretch passing through the State, P. Karunakaran, MP, told. “This should help in execution of the survey on the remaining 40-odd km in Karnataka with a small stretch passing through forest area,” Mr. Karunakaran said.
The project was approved by then Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee as she presented the budget proposals way back in 2008. However, it remained at a standstill due to lack of clearance from the Karnataka Forest Department.
The Planning Commission in 2012-13 had in principle agreed to sanction Rs. 375 crore for the delayed project. However, technical snags cited by certain quarters to extend the rail route up to Kaniyooru once again resulted in pushing the project in limbo.
The new rail link would cut short distance by about 300 km from north Kerala to Bengaluru.
The Chief Minister also inked an agreement with the Union Minister for sharing the cost on 50 per cent basis between the State and the Railways for its implementation. A new company would also be floated for railway projects in the State, it is learnt. The meeting also dwelt upon topics such as hurdles that the project would face from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. However, the Railway Ministry assured the State delegation that it would take steps to solve these issues.
Already a survey is being carried out by a Chennai-based firm to finalise the alignment. This will focus on the gradient when compared with other railway lines such as Mysore – Hassan and Nilambur- Shoranur lines. Possibly a Detailed Project Report will be prepared and a Special Purpose Vehicle will be formed based on the proposed re-survey.
The proposed Nanjangud-Sulthan Bathery-Nilambur railway line would not touch the tri-junction of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. An underground passage would be constructed on the proposed railway line that would pass through 10.5 km of forest land in Bandipur National Park.
The project was revived after a topographical alignment survey brought down the distance between Nilambur and Nanjangud to 156 km and cost to Rs. 2,200 crore recently. Earlier an unscientific survey had proposed a distance of 236 km and estimated the cost at Rs 4,266 crore.
Meanwhile T.M.Rasheed of Nilgiris-Wayanad National Highway and Railway Action Committee, which is spearheading the campaign for the project, welcomed the decision of the government and the Centre.