BANGALORE: A sum of Rs 600 crore to expedite work on seven long-pending railway projects and a promise to clear hurdles for Bangalore Metro work are some of the sops that the new railways minister Mallikarjun M Kharge doled out to his home state on Monday.
“Railways and Karnataka government together have decided to spend an additional Rs 600 crore in the current financial year to expedite work on seven pending rail projects,” Kharge told reporters after a meeting with senior railway and state government officials.
Kharge said the Bangalore Metro officials have apprised him about the hurdles involved in the work of Metro and he would take it up as a priority. “The onus of Metro work is largely on the state government but we have some issues to sort out. I will do all the needful to ensure work goes on smoothly,” he added.
No hike in rail fares
Kharge ruled out increasing rail fares this year in view of diesel price hike. “There is no such proposal, and fares would not be raised. We will take the financial burden ourselves and not pass it on to passengers,” Kharge said.
Booking to become smooth
Kharge said the railways will increase the number of servers to facilitate hassle-free booking of rail tickets through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Website. “The pressure on IRCTC servers has already come down with the introduction of SMS booking. It’s just a matter of time,” he added.
New railway divisions
Kharge said he will examine the long-pending demand to include Gulbarga and Mangalore railway divisions in the South Western Railway Zone. “I cannot promise just like that. I have to see whether it is feasible. If necessary I will get the feasibility report done before taking a final decision,” he added.
Kunigal stud farm
The railway is in a state of preparedness to execute work on the vital Bangalore-Hassan railway line which cuts across the historical Kunigal stud farm. But due to land acquisition problems the project has got delayed. “I have asked the state government to discuss the issue with business magnate Vijay Mallya and resolve it at the earliest. This is also true in case of land acquisition problems on Mangalore-Shravanabelagola route,” Kharge said.
The work to shift the 225-year-old Tipu Sultan’s armoury which has come in the way of Bangalore-Mysore railway line doubling project can only be expected to begin next year. “We are waiting for shifting of the armoury to protect it without causing any damage to the structure,” Kharge said. The armoury, which is one of eight constructed by erstwhile Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, comes under the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka and is situated close to the railway track at the Srirangapatna Railway Station.