Despite following a piecemeal approach for Karnataka, the Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has announced four new lines, one new line survey, two track-doubling works and a host of new express and passenger trains for Karnataka
in the railway budget for 2013-14.
Out of the seven new railway projects requested by Karnataka government, only Gadag-Wadi, Srinivaspur-Madanpalli
lines have been approved.
The minister has also announced resumption of work on new line projects of Chikmagalur - Sakleshpur and Bangalore - Satyamangalam, which were pending for want of resources and other mandatory clearances, after the Karnataka government agreed to give land free of cost and bear 50 per cent of the cost.
However, the minister has once again neglected the state’s demand for a commuter rail system for Bangalore.
“Even though Karnataka is the only state, which is providing land and 50 per cent of the cost of new railway projects. In spite of this, it is regrettable that the demands of the state have been sidelined,” chief minister Jagadish Shettar said.
The minister has announced new line survey for Tumkur-Maddur-Malavalli section and track doubling works between Shoranur-Mangalore 3rd line and Tumkur-Arsikere sections in the rail budget
Bansal has announced a host of new express trains and extensions of some of the existing trains for Karnataka. The new express trains are: Bangalore - Mangalore Express (weekly), Hubli - Mumbai Express (weekly) via Miraj, Pune, Kamakhya (Guwahati) - Bangalore AC Express (weekly), Madgaon - Mangalore Intercity Express (daily) via Udupi, Karwar, Mangalore - Kacheguda Express (weekly) via Dhone, Gooty, Nagercoil - Bangalore Express (daily) via Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Patliputra (Patna) - Bangalore Express (weekly) via Chheoki, Yesvantpur - Lucknow Express (Weekly) via Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh.
“Though the movement of few trains has been extended, it is more beneficial to the other states as the distance extended is very small. On the whole, instead of addressing our earlier grievance, Union Railway Minister has done further injustice of Karnataka,” the chief minister added.
The new passenger trains are: Marikuppam - Bangalore Passenger (daily), Talguppa - Shimoga Town Passenger (daily).
“It is disappointing to know the delay in announcing the new coach factory in Kolar which has been in limbo for quite some time. Once again the state’s demand for a commuter rail system for Bangalore has been neglected,” Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) said.
Meanwhile, the Mysore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has described the Budget, a ‘balanced’ budget.
However, it has opposed the rise in freight charges by 5 per cent and said it would affect the already overburdened industry.
“Slowdown has already hit small and micro-level industries. This would be an additional burden on them and would cause major impact,” Chamber President S Sudhakar Shetty said, appealing to the Union Railway Minister to drop the proposal.
He also expressed unhappiness over the budget not making any mention on the Mysore-Bangalore and Mangalore-Bangalore double lines and also about Mysore-Kushalanagar rail project.
However, expressing his overall satisfaction, Shetty said from the point of view of Mysore and the state, the budget can be described as satisfactory as six train routes are proposed to be extended, 18 new trains are proposed, four trains are proposed for completion, four are proposed for doubling, and three new routes are proposed for survey.
“From the point of view of the state’s economic development, these new proposals have brought a ray of hope,” he said.
Reacting to the budget, the Mysore Industries Association (MIA) has expressed its unhappiness saying that as far as Karnataka was concerned the budget was disappointing.
Opposing the proposed rise in freight charges, MIA general secretary Suresh Kumar Jain said, though passenger fares remained untouched keeping in mind the next general elections, industrial sector had been additionally burdened as it was not a “vote bank”.
He expressed disappointment that the budget had not included a number of demands from Mysore and Karnataka like upgrading the Mysore South Railway Workshop, a railway sub-station for the industrial area, and long-pending plea for a Chamarajanagar-Sathyamangalam rail link.
Similarly, the budget made no mention of the proposal of establishing a full-fledged medical hospital in Mysore, announced three years ago in the Railway Budget, though the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board had come forward to offer 50 acres of land.
N Karnataka disappointed
The budget of Bansal has come as a great disappointment to the people of North Karnataka. Their wish list has remained largely unfulfilled.
Dharwad MP Prahlad Joshi told Business Standard from New Delhi, the budget was a disappointing exercise. He said the Railway minister who indicated a deficit of Rs 95,000 crore and a loss of Rs 24,000 crore had not taken any concrete step to overcome the deficit and make the loss good. “By hiking the tariff on tatkal, travel by AC and reservation charges, the minister has indirectly burdened the passengers without providing any tangible benefit,” Joshi complained.
The MP who had submitted several proposals to be taken up by the Railways in North Karnataka, said the budget had meted out a step-motherly treatment to Karnataka. The state government had agreed to provide free land for railway projects and funds for sharing the cost of the project. However, Karnataka’s plea has been ignored, Joshi lamented.
Starting a new weekly train from Hubli to Mumbai, extending the Sampark Kranti Express train via Hubli for two days in a week, new line between Gadag and Wadi, and extension of Sholapur- Yeswantpur Express upto Mysore cannot be considered as satisfying the needs of the people of the region, he said.
Former member of Railway consultative committee P G Narsapur said the budget has been a damp squib for Karnataka. “Our major demands have been ignored and the minister has provided only piece meal,” he said. On the positive side, he appreciated the concern of the railway minister for modernisation, safety and security of the Railways and passengers.
Introduction of new night Express Trains to Pune and Mumbai, one more train from Hubli to Chennai via Hospet and Guntakal, regular running of Sampark Kranti Express and Chennai-Vasco Express, New Night Super fast express train to Bangalore from Hubli, converting Hubli-Kochuveli weekly train into a daily train and introduction of new Hubli-Mangalore Express train had been demanded in the proposal sent to the railway minister.
In addition, MP Joshi had urged the railway minister to start a Hubli - Nizamuddin Daily train, Hubli - Sholapur Daily (inter city), Hubli-Guntkal (inter city), Hubli - Shiradi direct train. and new express train from Hubli to Gulbarga, via Gadag and Bijapur.