कन्याकुमारी Kanyakumari (CAPE): The Chennai-Trichy-Madurai-Kanyakumari main line (738 km) is the most important route of the Southern Railway (SR) of Indian Railways, as it connects the entire part of Tamil Nadu, particularly the central and southern parts of the state with State capital Chennai in general and the other parts of India in particular. This line is also considered to be the back bone of the state as well as the Southern Railway, as this route generates maximum revenue to the SR while also being one of the most attractive tourist destination of India on Indian Railways, besides catering to other main artillery lines including the Madurai-Rameswaram, Dindigul-Coimbatore, Trichy-Nagapatinam, Virudunagar-Senkottai, Virudhachallam-Selam, Maniachi-Tuticorrin etc with many large scale industrial belts developed over a period of time along this route, and despite having huge potential of passenger and freight traffic, most part of this main line connectivity to Southern-most tip of India is currently a single line.
Considering the potentialities of this route, the Ministry of Railways allowed doubling for Chennai-Villupuram-Trichi-Madurai sections in different phases and the works are going on in different stages, which are expected to complete by 2015/16. The only left out portion of the Chennai-Kannyakumari main line which is now the Madurai-Tirunelveli-Kannyakumari section for which, the Ministry of Railways had already sanctioned the survey (2012-13 Railway Budget) for the doubling of this section. As announced, the survey has now been completed for the Madurai-Tirunelveli-Kannyakumari section including the Maniachi-Tuticorrrin (276 km) section and the Railway Board is believed to have principally approved the project and has forwarded the same to the Planning Commission for approval. The project has a rate of return of 8.095% which is above the minimum required value.
Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, industrialists, politicians, political groups and public strongly believe that if this project is approved by the Planning Commission and sanctioned in the forthcoming budget, the doubling work on this section would also be completed parallel with other sections of the Chennai-Kannyakumari route and the entire 738 Kms long Chennai-Kannyakumari main trunk route will get doubled by end of 2016 that which would facilitate the Indian Railways to operate more and more freight and passenger trains towards the Southern tip of Tamil Nadu from all over India.
This will also importantly boost the operational efficiency, tourism, increased freight and passenger traffic, industrialization in the region. Doubling of this section would strengthen and support the freight movement of Tuticorin port and the upcoming ports at Colachel and Vizhingam. It is also required to cater the freight movement from the upcoming Special Economic Zone at Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district and to accommodate the growing demand from people working at Koodankulam Atomic Power Station, and the Mahendra Giri unit of ISRO, and, moreover, it would also help to get the economically and industrially backward southern districts of Tamil Nadu into a developed region, at par with the Northern and Western Corridors.
What People’s Representatives say?
P Edward Jeni, secretary of Kanyakumari District Rail Users Association (KKDRA) said that if the project is completed it will boost the entire economic growth of the region. “The southern region has sound academic growth but lags behind in industrial development. The doubling will help the industrial growth of the area,” he pointed out. Besides, the travel time between Chennai and Kanyakumari can be reduced greatly. At present it takes 13 hours between these destinations which will come down to seven to eight hours, Jeni mentioned. Meanwhile, Colachel MLA, J G Prince has petitioned the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on various occasions to implement the project. Doubling work has been undertaken on the Chennai-Madurai section already and if Madurai-Kanyakumari is also undertaken immediately, the entire section may be completed by 2016. In addition to operating more trains, the doubling will be useful to support the freight movement of Tuticorin port and the upcoming ports at Colachel and Vizhingam. It is also required to cater the freight movement from the upcoming special economic zone at Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district and to accommodate the growing demand from people working at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and the Mahendragiri unit of ISRO, Prince observed in his various petitions. PTKA Balasubramanian from Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee and President of Sattur Chamber of Commerce said that operating more trains to the southern region will remain in the paper without taking up this doubling project.
Nanguneri SEZ – prime growth corridor for the region to boost the freight traffic of Railways
One of the first SEZs located in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, Nanguneri SEZ was launched in 2001. But, subsequently the project was mired in controversy. It has now taken off with more than half a dozen units commencing production in the 2500-acre SEZ.
A separate 230 kv power sub-station has been completed now resolving electricity shortages and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa is scheduled to inaugurate it shortly. Also, with Kudankulam nuclear power plant going on stream more power would be available for the SEZ shortly.
The proposal is to acquire an additional 1500 acre land around the area to ultimately convert it into a NIMZ, said minister of state for commerce and industry EMS Nachiappan.
“Nanguneri has been revived…We have suggested that it be further expanded to graduate into a NIMZ by acquiring an additional 1500 acres,” Nachiappan told RailNews.
The proposal is to expand the SEZ by acquiring land in nearby districts of Tuticorin, Virudhanagar, Sivaganga and Ramnad to create industrial clusters taking advantage of the 18 benefits available to such clusters in national manufacturing policy. It would then be graduated into a NIMZ. “We have requested the Tamil Nadu government to set up such clusters,” he said.
Nanguneri Special Economic Zone promoter AMRL Hi-Tech City has signed a pact with Great Shine Engineering, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Zynergy Capital to set up a Rs 1,500 crore modern facility for manufacturing solar power peripherals over 40 acres. A Japanese firm that is into, manufacture of high precision scales for use in research laboratories is in advanced stage of negotiations with AMRL to set up its base in the SEZ. Kerala-based surgical gloves manufacturers would invest around Rs 20 crore at Nanguneri SEZ. AMRL had concluded agreements with 15 industries including a Dubai-based company to take up around 45 acres so far. The SEZ consists of processing zone, spread over 1,780 acres with industries and non-processing zone spread over 740 acres, which would house social infrastructure.
Nachiappan said that negotiations are also on with Japanese agencies to implement the Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridor. “Japanese are very much interested in the industrial corridor particularly because more than 2500 Japanese are already working in companies set up in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu has one of the largest presence of Japanese professionals and 40 percent of Japanese investments in the country. With Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor being set up with Japanese collaboration, more countries like US, UK and Canada are keen to participate in such corridors in the country. United Kingdom has evinced interest in setting up the Bangalore-Mumbai corridor. “We proposed to set up two nodes (industrial townships) in the Chennai-Bangalore corridor initially,” he said.