Sabari Rail project hits major Roadblock

Kochi: It seems that there is no end to the problems plaguing the Sabari Rail project. Hitting another nail on the coffin of the project, the Railways has ordered to shutdown the project office at the site at Muvattupuzha. This comes at a time when the Railways has already spent around Rs.130 crore for various works, including laying of rail track from Angamaly to Kalady and notifying over 1,100 plots to be acquired for the project.

A senior official deputed at the project site said, “we have been told to relieve from duty  and directed to report at the Ernakulam office next week. The Railways has almost relinquished the project, and there is only remote chance for revival of the project, unless there is ministerial level intervention.”

“The senior section engineer, junior engineer, section clerk and office assistant who were posted at the office at the project site will report at the Ernakulam office on the next working day,” he said.

“The ambitious rail line, announced in 1997-98, is being meted out a very raw deal by the BJP Government,” said Sabari Railway Action Council chairman PM Ismayil. The rail line, which is expected to cater to the travel needs of thousands of pilgrims in South India who visit the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala, received only a paltry amount of Rs 5 crore in the last Budget.

“In 2011, the Centre made it mandatory that state governments should bear half of the total cost of railway projects. As per the stipulation, the State Government will have to find Rs 900 crore for the project. But, minister in-charge of railway Aryadan Mohammed recently announced that the State would not be able to bear the costSubsequently, the Railways initiated steps to wind up the project. The transfer of the officials to the Ernakulam office is almost like shutting down the project,” said Ismayil. Aryadan told ‘Express’, “since Rs 5 crore was allocated in the last Budget, it is not easy to wind up the project. I was not intimated about the latest development. I will take up the matter with the authorities concerned soon.”

When contacted, senior railway officials were not available for comment.