Protest against proposed new Rail Line between Hatkangale-Ichalkaranji

Sanghatana demand Railways to opt for elevated track instead of laying tracks over the fertile lands belonging to farmers of poor economic background. The members vehemently said that they will obstruct any attempt to spoil the economy and productivity of the poor farmers in the region. The argument gained more support locally.

KOLHAPUR: The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana led by Raju Shetti has raised objections against the new railway line sanctioned in this year’s Union budget between Hatkangale and Ichalkaranji, saying that it is non-viable and that it could affect fertile agricultural land in the area.

The government has sanctioned Rs 160 crore for the new line under the allocation for new projects.

Vijay Bhosale, the Ichalkaranji city chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana and a member of the Pune Division railway consultant committee, said, “It is not a viable project. There are three railway stations in the periphery of Icalkaranji. There is no space for the line, except in the western parts of the taluka. The land in this area is fertile and is owned by marginal farmers, who do not have other means of survival. Sanghatana demanded Railways to opt for elevated track instead of laying tracks over the fertile lands belonging to farmers of poor economic background. The members vehemently said that they will obstruct any attempt to spoil the economy and productivity of the poor farmers in the region. The argument gained more support locally.

Bhosale further said, “Hatkanangale is six to seven km from Ichalkaranji. The project will require construction of a new station, which will need 10 to 12 hectares of land. As the city is already developed, the railways has to build the station outside the city. This will further reduce the distance between the two stations.”  He further said that if Railways want to lay the new railway line, they may opt elevated track so that agricultural land belonging to poor farmers will not be lost in a greater proposition if line is laid on land.

The railway authorities said that just the funds have been sanctioned but the land mapping or the estimate has not happened yet.

Nagesh Pujari, a farmer who is the secretary of the newly-formed action committee against the proposed railway line, said, “The new rail line will affect the marginal farmers in the villages between Hatkanangale and Ichalkaranji, ie, Kambhoj, Kabnur, Rui and Kodochi. These marginal farmers have no other means of survival. We would protest against the project at various levels.”

Supporting the railway line project, local MLA Suresh Halnavar said, “The railways is the vehicle of progress. As per the new land acquisition norms, farmers would be properly compensated. The track is very important for the development of Ichalkarnji. The Hatkanangale-Ichalkaranji line will further connect to Belgaum. The connectivity with Karnataka would be a big boost to the industry in Ichalkaranji. The protesters should think of the development of the region.”

Shivnath Biyani, member of the road and railway passengers association of Maharashtra, said, “The ministry has only sanctioned the project and allocated funds for the primary work. The details of the project is yet to come. Based on the details we will decide to welcome or resist it. The funds can be utilised for electrification of Kolhapur-Hatkangale line.”

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