Harihar (HRR): The 67-km Kottur-Harihar new railway line, though was completed three years ago, is yet to see operation of trains as a ginger group of farmers in and around Ganganarsi village in Harihar taluk are obstructing the South Western Railway from giving the final touches to the completed track. The farmers owing land between the 25-km stretch of Harapanahalli and Amaravati Junction (about 5 km from Harihar) have been demanding higher compensation for their 250 acres of land acquired for the project. Though the foundation stone was laid for the railway line in 1995 by the then Railway Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief, the acquisition process commenced in 2002, sources told.
Those demanding higher compensation approached court and 495 cases were filed. Of these, over 400 have been disposed of directing higher compensation to farmers.
The South Western Railway has deposited Rs.1.21 crore with the district administration for payment of enhanced compensation. Still, a group of farmers has been obstructing work demanding Rs.7 lakh an acre compensation, the sources said.
Davangere South MLA S.S. Mallikarjun, in whose constituency Amaravati Junction and Goods Shed fall, said that he is trying to convince the farmers to allow the Railways to open the line.
It is in the interests of the district and the region that the line should become operational, Mr. Mallikarjun said.
The South Western Railway authorities too wrote to the Chief Secretary on December 19 highlighting their plight and urging the State government to convince the farmers that the line be opened.
Reduction in distance
K.N. Krishnaprasad, who keenly follows developments in the railway sector, pointed out that the new line provided the shortest rail route between Chennai and Mangalore.
The distance between Hospet and Chikjajur Junction will reduce at least by 50 km from the regular routes — via Rayadurg and Chitradurga or Hubli and Haveri. Due to the inordinate delay in completing the project, the cost has shot up from Rs.65 crore to Rs.439 crore.
Railway Minister M.Mallikarjun Kharge was, however, hopeful of the State government resolving the farmers’ issue amicably. He said that once the issue is settled, the South Western Railway could complete the remaining work within a couple of months.