Mangalore, August 16: On Saturday August 16th the union railway minister D V Sadananda Gowda (DVS) laid the foundation for Padil-Bajal underbridge at Kankanady owing to a closer move towards the realization of the long-pending demand of many Mangaloreans .
After laying the foundation stone for the project, DVS addressing the gathering said, “This crowd signifies the pain they suffered and their long wait of 30 years for this underbridge. Now that the foundation is being laid finally, people have gathered here to express their anger for making them wait so long, and even I join them”.
“This project remained pending due to some technical problems. After becoming the union railway minister, I gave top priority to this project and cleared the files within a few days. Earlier when I was the MLC I had fought for this cause also. As per plans, the state government will bear 50 percent of the cost, out of which a portion will be from the MCC and the project will be completed and opened for public in February the next year. But I have requested the general manager of southern railways to take the matter seriously and see that it is ready by January, he added.
DVS said that his style of functioning was akin to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said “In the last 67 years the railway department was crawling. It’s not promises but deliverance that matters in Modi-led government. I do not want to speak, I want my work to speak for me. We have decided that no files in the railway offices should remain pending for more than 10 days. Any file or proposal that comes to the railway department will be dealt or disposed off within 10 days”.
Pertaining to the issue of language at Mangalore railway station he said, “I have ordered that twice every week Kannada would be taught to non-Kannadigas employed with the railways. This is not only for Mangalore but in all regions. All regional languages will be given equal priority”.
Emphasizing towards importance of cleanliness he said, “The railway is public property and everything cannot be done by the department alone. There should be self-awareness among people. Toilets and platforms should be maintained well and people should ensure that they keep them clean. I recently travelled by second class from Bangalore to Mysore and I was not happy with cleanliness factor. I have ordered each DRM to visit each railway station daily and monitor. I rely in my officers. Today I see that Mangalore junction is very clean, but this should be maintained every day”.
He also prised the community aided railway department scheme started in Mangalore where teams from NGOs, Rotary, Rotract and other clubs and NCC cadets volunteer to clean up the railway stations in the city.
On the long-cherished dream of having Mangalore as a separate railway division, DVS seemed reluctant to commit himself and said that he was studying the feasibility of this move and had already held one round of talks with the officials concerned. It would take another six months to complete the study, he said, adding that a good solution would be given to the people of Mangalore.
Speaking further on the development of railways under his tenure he said, “Safety, security and service are our priorities. Incorporating IT into railways is our focus of attention. Before I assumed this office, we were able to book 2,000 tickets per minute, but now we can book 7,200 tickets per minute, that is 1,20,000 people can book their tickets simultaneously without any technical problem.
“Within 15 days on assuming charge, we raided 15 railway stations and imposed fines of Rs one lakh each on caterers who were providing bad food. If they repeat the same in future, their licences will be cancelled,” he added.
“Railway projects worth Rs 5,60,000 crore were pending under the previous government, but I have not dropped even a single project of the UPA government. We are moving ahead with those projects as development is a continuous process and we should all work together. We planned the budget very carefully so that there are no populist measures and thereby, no burden on the exchequer.
“As per practice, the state government has to bear 50 percent of cost for a rail project, but recently the CM of Karnataka had written to me saying that his government is unable to do so due to lack of sufficient funds. But this practice cannot be reviewed as even the BJP had borne 50 percent of the cost when it was in power in the state. Finally, MLAs from the coastal region convinced the CM and now the same old practice will be maintained,” he explained.
To upgrade the Mangalore Central station with world class facilities, he said that the project is in the pipeline and would cost around Rs 215 crore. It will be taken up on PPP model and the procedures are going on. “We will deliver it,” he promised.
Further he added that, two escalators have been sanctioned for Mangalore Central station and they will be installed sooner. He also gave details about other projects such as doubling of Ullal track, renaming the Bangalore-Mangalore train as ‘Kudla Express’, digitalization of the railway department etc .He even assured that highest priority will be given for railway proposal coming from DK district.
DVS also stated that the price of areca import had been hiked to Rs 175 per kg from Rs 110 per kg, following talks by a delegation from Campco with minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitaraman.
The function was presided over by Ramanatha Rai, minister for forest, environment and ecology. The occasion was graced by the guests Mahabala Marla, mayor of Mangalore city corporation and MP Nalin Kumar Kateel. MLA J R Lobo, MLCs Capt Ganesh Karnik Ivan D’Souza, and Asha Thimmappa Gowda, president, Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat were present as the guests of honour. The gathering was welcomed by Rakesh Mishra, General Manager of Southern Railway.