THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: State power and transport minister Aryadan Muhammed said the Indian railways now wants the government of Kerala to fund part of the Sabari rail project, citing inordinate delay in its implementation.
Aryadan said the railways has asked Kerala to shell out Rs 780 crore, which is around 50% of the project cost.
“The government had repeatedly said that we may not be able to disburse such a huge amount. We need to find a viable solution to this stalemate,” he said.
The minister was replying to a calling attention notice raised by CPM MLA Saju Paul in the assembly on Monday.
Aryadan said the Sabari rail project will be a boon for lakhs of Ayyappa devotees who come from different parts of the country and this will also reduce the number of vehicle accidents on this route.
The minister said the initial project cost of the Sabari rail project, when it was envisaged in 1997-98, was Rs 517 crore, but due to the delay in acquisition of land, the project cost has increased to Rs 1,556 crore.
“The railways’ stand is that they did not cause the delay and now they can only provide 50% of the cost,” he said.
The minister said that 173.79 hectares is being acquired in Ernakulam, 48 hectares in Idukki and 217.10 hectares in Kottayam.
“But the railways is yet to pay compensation to some land owners in Ernakulam, and they have approached the high court to settle the dispute,” he said.”We also have to solve the alignment issue in Kottayam district. The railways has assured that necessary over bridges and underground tunnels will be constructed wherever there are bypasses and ghats section along the Sabari rail network,” Aryadan said.