Future of Sabari Rail Project depends on Kerala’s stance

sabari_rail_656093eKochi: The Railways has reiterated its stance that the State Government should fund half of the project cost for the Sabari Rail project to go ahead as per schedule.

The Railways had spent Rs 160 crores for the project till now. According to the new estimate the total cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 1566 crores. The Railways wants the State Government to raise 783 crores which is 50 per cent of the project cost. However, the State Government is yet to give a positive response to the Railways’ stance and in the State budget, the government earmarked only a miniscule amount of five crores for the project. Railway’s decision is now a clear indication that it will not the solely bear the entire cost of the project.

However, the special company – formed for implementing the Railway projects on a priority basis in the State – floated jointly by the State Government and Railways can still take over and implement the Sabari Rail Project.

Last year, the State Government had given permission to terminate the railway line at Erumeli as the original line through Azhutha was passing through the buffer zone of the Periyar Wild Life Sanctury. The sketch of the new alignment of the railway line from Angamali to Pala has been completed. A Bangalore based private company is doing satellite survey of the line in Pala and Anjunad.

12tvark02-Sabari_ra_922387eThe survey is based on popular demand by elected representatives who want the rail line to pass through areas which are not inhabited by people. Top officials are of opinion that the Sabari Rail Project will be profitable if the railway line, which is to be terminated at Erumeli, is extended to either Punalur or Kottarakkara and joining the Kollam-Shencottah railway route.

For that to become feasible, the railway line has to be drawn through Erumeli -Ranni -Pathanamthitta-Konni-Punalur routes or through Ranni-Pathanamthitta-Konni-Adoor to Kottarakkara.

If Sabrai railway line is extended to Kollam-Shencottah route, it becomes the main railway line passing through Kottayam and it also opens up the Thiruvananthapuram-Angamali route. There is also a possibility to start rail service from Shencottah to Chennai.

The work on railway line on Angamali-Kalady section has been completed and work on the railway station at Kalady is at final stages of completion. The Sabari Rail Project was cleared in 1998 but in the next 17 years only eight km of railway line till Kalady could only be completed.

There were plans to abandon the project but the government decided to continue with it as the project brought inaccessible areas in Ernakulam, Kottayam and Idukki districts into the railway map of the country.