No Move to Scrap Sabari Rail Project: Sunil Bajpai, DRM/TVC

Thiruvananthapuram (TVC): Railways Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager Sunil Bajpai has said the Railways had not taken any decision to backtrack on the Sabari Rail project.   Speaking to mediapersons at the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, he urged the State Government to form a special purpose vehicle for executing rail projects in the State.

Though financial crisis is one of the main problems facing the rail development projects, the Railways has not asked the State to bear half of the cost of rail projects being implemented here.

Recently, the Railways had ordered to shut down the project office of Sabari Rail at the project site at Muavattupuzha, inviting widespread criticism from various quarters. It came at a time when the Railways had spent around Rs 130 crore for drawing rail line from Angamaly to Kalady and for the related works, apart from notifying 1,100-odd plots to be acquired for the project.

A Central Government directive issued in 2011, asking state governments to bear 50 per cent of the total cost of rail projects, had dealt a severe blow to the hopes of the ambitious Sabari Rail project. According to the directive, the State Government will have to bear half of the project cost, which would come around Rs 900 crore.

“But, the State Government has informed the Centre its inability to bear the 50 per cent cost. Following this, the Railways initiated steps to wind up the project, and started transferring staff to the Ernakulam office, almost shutting down the project,” said Sabari Action Council chairman P M Ismayil.

On Railways’ expansion projects, Bajpai said, “at present, there is no proposal before the Railways to run suburban trains in Kochi.”