Karnataka CM wants State’s share of spending on Railway projects cut to 33%

बेंगलुरू Bangalore (SBC):  Due to financial constraints, the Karnataka government has sought a re-look into the cost-sharing ratio for railway projects. The state government has sought a reduction of its share from the present 50 per cent to 33 per cent.

In a letter to Union Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Chief minister Siddaramaiah appealed to him to reconsider the agreements already signed with the state government.

“I strongly urge you to take up these projects either fully at the cost of the Ministry of Railways or agree to a 2/3 and 1/3 cost-sharing pattern,” he stated in his letter to Gowda before the Railway Budget was presented. The CM  also appealed to Gowda to consider including the cost of land acquisition in the total project estimate while deciding the state’s share.

“Major railway infrastructure projects like coach and locomotive factories could come up purely as Government of India investments,” the CM said. Siddaramaiah also urged Gowda to put the high speed rail connectivity between Mysore and Bangalore on a “high pedestal.”   Taking strong exception on the Chief Minister’s letter to the Union Minister, Opposition BJP leader K S Eshwarappa moved an adjournment motion seeking a detailed discussion on the issue in the Council.

Making his submission, Eshwarappa said, “The CM’s decision will hamper on-going railway projects being taken up in the state on cost-sharing bases.”

House leader S R Patil, intervening on the issue said, “The CM  has not opposed cost-sharing of railway projects and has only made some suggestions.” Patil said the government was ready for a debate on the issue, adding that it could be taken up for discussion on Wednesday.

Chairman D H Shankaramurthy said he would allow the matter to be  discussed under rule 69.

State should continue cost-sharing agreement with Railways for ongoing projects.  ‘Otherwise, it will take at least 30 years to complete the projects’:  BJP

If the agreement between the State government and the Centre on 50:50 cost sharing for railway projects is modified now, it will take at least 30 years to complete the ongoing projects in the State.

This delay will result in cost escalation and the total cost of ongoing projects, which is nearly Rs. 22,000 crore now, may go up to Rs.70,000 crore.

Raising these apprehensions, the Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded that the State government continue the 50:50 cost-sharing formula with the Centre at least for the ongoing projects.

Referring to the recent letter by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, State BJP president Pralhad Joshi told presspersons here on Wednesday that it was unfair for the State to go back on its commitment and insist on modifying the agreement now.

Alleging that the Congress government was playing “divisive” politics at the cost of State’s interests, Mr. Joshi asked, “Why did they not think about getting the agreement modified during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s tenure? The fact that the State government has written the letter as soon as the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre indicates the ill-intentions of the Congress.”

The State government should honour its commitment and continue the agreement for the ongoing projects, he said.

Mr. Joshi said Karnataka was the first State that signed a memorandum of understanding with the Railway Ministry to take up projects on cost-sharing basis. “This model has been emulated by several States and it is ridiculous that Karnataka wants to withdraw this arrangement now,” he said.