PALAKKAD / NEW DELHI: With Union Railway Minister making it clear that the Centre has no immediate plans to initiate construction of the Rs. 550-crore rail coach factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad, the long anticipated project is now facing an imminent death.
M.B. Rajesh, MP, said the Minister, in a written reply, claimed Railways had adequate facilities to meet the coach requirements. The present facilities could meet the future demands as well, the Minister said.
Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain also told Mr. Rajesh that the Ministry did not foresee a coach shortage in the near future and establishing such a costly project would be a wastage of public money.
Though the previous budgets had nominal allocations for the project, the latest one doesn’t have a passive mention about it.
Last year, there were plans to shift it from Kanjikode to Sonepat in Haryana. The 439 acres acquired by the government for the project six years ago has remained idle.
Except for a partially done compound wall, there is no construction taken up so far. It was after hectic negotiations with landowners that the State acquired the land sought by the Railway Ministry. On their part, Railways had paid Rs. 32.44 crore for land acquisition.
Last year, Railways had demanded an additional 90 acres for the second phase of the factory.
“Apart from a part of the land price, the Centre had allocated Rs. 1.60 crore for the project so far. The factory was sanctioned for Palakkad following agitations, especially against the Union government’s discrimination of the State’s rail sector,” Mr. Rajesh said.
Twelve years had gone since a Railway Budget proposed the coach factory at Kanjikode, saying it would ensure timely availability of rail coaches. The project was proposed to be completed in three years with an annual capacity of 450 coaches. The plan was to establish the factory in the public-private partnership mode.
Mr. Rajesh said the intention of the ministry to drop the project must be viewed with suspicion. He also warned of an agitation if the Ministry backtracked from the project.