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The wish list of the people of North Karnataka has remained largely unfulfilled. After seeing the then Union Railway Minister D V Sadanand Gowda failing to meet their aspirations last year, the people of north Karnataka had not expected much from the present Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu. But they are disappointed that their minimum needs were not considered in the railway budget presented by the minister on Thursday.
"The budget speaks of generalities without touching upon any specific issue. We had not placed demand for any new project. We just wanted funds to be allotted to the projects announced earlier and the works completed. But Prabhu's budget has not provided sufficient funds for these projects. As many as 27 projects have been pending since several years. The Hubballi-Ankola railway line project needed to be given top priority and steps should have been taken to get the court's stay on the implementation of the project vacated," said president of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vasant Ladwa.
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State BJP president and Dharwad MP Prahlad Joshi described the budget as passenger-friendly as there have been many facilities announced by the railway minister for the passengers' safety and comfort without increasing the passenger fare. He said the budget has provision for sanction of funds for several projects announced earlier for Karnataka. He pointed out that Rs 12 crore had been allocated for Hubballi-Ankola rail line project.
Social activist Prahlad Narsapur who has been pursuing the cause of north Karnataka in matters related to rail facilities said: "Providing WiFi in railway stations, sockets and plugs for charging mobile phones in general compartments, facility to book the tickets 120 days in advance and canteen facility are welcome gestures but the core issues of providing rail connectivity to the uncovered areas remain unfulfilled". He pointed out that only 5 per cent of area in Karnataka has railway connectivity while in North India 33 per cent of the area has been covered by rail facility.
Narsapur said the railway minister had failed to specify the sources of funding and the Public-Private-Partnership model.Without specifying the exact sources of funding, it will not be possible to take the projects to logical end, he said.
Demands of the region
Extension of Hubballi-Kurla Express train up to CST and new trains between Hubballi and Chennai, Hubballi and Mangaluru and night express to Bengaluru from Hubballi. New line works on Hubli -Dharwad-Kittur-Belgaum, Haveri - Gadag, Gadag -Wadi, Kudachi-Bagalkot, Harihar -Shimoga, Talaguppa - Honnavar (Linking with Konkan Railway Line) and Davangeri-Tumkur via chitradurga routes.
Hubballi - Ankola new broad gauge line is a dream project capable of ushering in a new era of economic growth of the region. But none of these have been considered by Suresh Prabhu.