Railway Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge has directed the Railway Board to prepare at the earliest a detailed project report (DPR) on the Wadi-Gadag new railway line after the preliminary survey is completed.
The Wadi-Gadag line was of crucial importance as it could connect Hyderabad-Karnataka with Bombay-Karnataka, Kharge said after laying the foundation stone for doubling of 98-km Gulbarga-Hotgi line and construction of a fourth platform along with the foot overbridge at the Gulbarga railway station on Tuesday. At present, there is no direct train between Gulbarga and Hubli or Belgaum. Once the Wadi-Gadag railway line was constructed, the two regions would have direct connectivity, the minister added.
Kharge directed the Railway Board member (Engineering), Subodh Jain who shared the dais with him, to prepare the DPR at the earliest on the new line proposed in the Railway Budget for 2013-14. According to the minister, once the DPR was prepared and cleared by the Planning Commission, it could be taken to the Cabinet for approval. Thereafter, the project could be implemented.
Kharge further said that the railways had decided to use the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in its works. All masonry work in the railways could be taken up under the Act and the respective gram panchayats, under whose jurisdiction the railway line fell, involved for the purpose. “It will not only ensure proper and effective implementation of the Act but also help the railways to execute its works,’’ Kharge hoped, adding that discussions were held with the Union Rural Development Minister, Jairam Ramesh, and progress was expected soon.
According to Kharge, the 110-km Bidar-Gulbarga new railway line being constructed for the last 14 years would be completed in three-and-a-half-years if adequate funds were available every year.
Karnataka lagging in railway network, says Kharge
Kharge said on Tuesday that Karnataka lagged Bihar, Haryana and Assam as far as development of rail network was concerned. It was not even close to the level in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, he said.
Mr. Kharge, who laid the foundation stone here for the Rs. 350-crore railway line doubling work between Gulbarga and Hotgi railway stations, said that while Karnataka had 16 per cent railway lines for every 1,000 sq km of area, Bihar, which topped the country, had 38 per cent railway lines for 1,000 sq km area.
He said that Haryana and Assam were the two other States with high growth of railway infrastructure. While Haryana had 34 per cent of railway lines for every 1,000 sq km area, Assam had 31 per cent railway lines for every 1,000 sq km area. Andhra Pradesh had 19.4 per cent railway lines per 1,000 sq km and Maharashtra 18.20 per cent railway lines per 1,000 sq km.
“It would be impossible for Karnataka to match the kind of development that had taken place in Bihar, Haryana or Assam. It would take a great amount of investment to match the railway infrastructure available in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh,” Mr. Kharge said.
“I have very little time left before the next Lok Sabha elections but I have initiated steps to bridge the gap in railway infrastructure development in Karnataka,” he added. Mr. Kharge said that the line doubling between Gulbarga and Hotgi would help the Railways to increase the speed of existing trains and also run more new trains on the Mumbai-Chennai and Mumbai-Bangalore route. This work would be completed within 30 months, he said.
He said that there was emphasis now on completing the long-pending railway projects, including the Gulbarga-Bidar railway line.
Mr. Kharge said that it had been decided to take up a survey to prepare a detailed project report for the proposed Wadi-Gadag new railway line to provide connectivity between Hyderabad Karnataka region and Mumbai Karnataka region. The project would be taken up on cost-sharing basis between the Union and State governments.
General Manager of Central Railways B.P. Khare welcomed the gathering. The former Chief Minister and MP N. Dharam Singh and MLC Allamprabhu Patil spoke.