DR. T. SUMATHY (A) THAMIZHACHI THANGAPANDIAN (CHENNAI SOUTH) : Southern Railway has been allocated Rs. 3340 crore in the Budget for the year 2020-2021. This is nearly 19 percent lower than the Rs. 4118.80 crore allotted in 2019-20. The budgetary allocation for 2020-21 has a grant of Rs. 1238 crore for doubling works; Rs. 175 crore towards gauge conversion; Rs. 37 crore for traffic facilities and Rs. 198 crore for passenger amenities. This is absolutely insufficient and I only wish the Government to shed the step motherly treatment show to Southern Railway in this budget. Surveys for the three routes Morappur-Dharmapuri via Mokkanur (36 kms), Needmangalam-Pattukottai via Mannargudi, Madukkur (54 kms), Rameshwaram-Dhanuskodi (17 kms) have been initiated but require funds and need to expedited in as far as Gauge Conversion Madurai-Bodinayakkanur (90.4 kms) need to be expedited in doubling too the Attipattu-Korukkupettai (18 kms), 2. Chennai Beach -Attipatu 4th line (22.1 kms) 3. Chennai BeachKorukkupettai 3rd line (4.1 kms) are under progress need to be completed very soon. With the escalating cost of execution of pending projects, Southern Railway would need around Rs. 10,000 crore to complete all pending projects including the new lines on which preliminary work had begun. This includes Dharmapuri-Morapur via Mukanur, Ranimukanur (36kms); Kumbakonam- Virudhachalam Jn (65 kms); Attipattu-Pattur (88.3 kms); Salem-Kallakurichi via Chinnasalem (58 kms); Erode-Palani (91.05 kms); Madurai-Aruppukkottai – Tuticorin (144 kms); Tindivanam-Gingcee-Tiruvannamalai (70 kms) and Tindivanam-Nagari (179.2 kms); Chennai-Cuddalore via Mmallapuram, Sriperambudur-Guduvanchery with branches to Irungattukottai-AvadiSriperambadur; and Rameshwaram-Dhanuskodi. The lines were sanctioned over the past 10 to 15 years and costs around Rs. 4,401.2 crore, but so far railways has spent only Rs. 458.99 crore upto March 2020. This shows the how Southern Railway has been neglected by the Ministry of Railways. The Chennai-Cuddalore new line project, biggest among the project can be developed as East Coast line from Chennai to Tuticorin, alternate to present congested route via Madurai. It was surveyed in 2008 and got its final approval after negotiating change of alignment with Puducherry. The new Sriperambudur-Guduvanchery line will be connecting important industrial clusters with trunk routes, which will attract more freight traffic. With focus on safety, Rs. 880 crore have been sanctioned for new road over bridges and road over bridges, particulary on the Golden Quadrilateral/Diagonal routes (Chennai-Gudur/Chennai-Arakkonam-Renigunta). This has the potential to increase the speed of trains. It is unfortunate that the Railway Board has asked Southern Railway to stop funding 10 projects in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, including the ChennaiCuddalore line via Mahabalipuram and Sriperumbudur-Guduvanchery new line projects. However, the Railway Board has assured that the projects which are in advanced state of completion and crucial for railway operation should be completed on priority with available resources. For the Rs. 900 crore Tindivanam-Gingee-Tiruvannamalai project, the Madras High Court judgement on July 3 declaring the TN Industrial Purposes Act, 1997 as illegal and quashing of land acquisition process was cited as reason. The Rs. 1,105 crore Attipattu-Puttur project was stalled due to the same reasons. The Rs. 1,140 crore Erode-Palani project had been frozen long ago. In the Rs. 2300 crore Chennai-Cuddalore project, tenders for Final Location Survey (FLS) was opened in August and the FLS is expected to be completed by March 2020. In the Rs. 1500 crore Sriperumbudur-Avadi project, FLS will be completed by March 2020 and Tamil Nadu Government has agreed to share 50% of the costs. It is to be noted that at various points of time in the past, the Preliminary Engineering Cum Traffic Survey has been conducted in the state to lay new railway lines for 5000 km. However, no new projects were announced in this budget. Railway Unions say, the projects hung fire due to the Centre’s delay in allocating through funds for them. So, it came as a shock when the Niti Ayog in 2015, recommended the railways to shut down all projects which have been in the pipeline for a long time. Railway Board had asked the Tamil Nadu State Government to take these projects under ‘special purpose vehicle’ company, where Indian Railways develop new infrastructure projects with states in a joint venture process. But the State Government has rejected the idea saying since railways come under Central Government, therefore, it is responsibility of Centre to develop new railway projects. It is an utter ignorance on southern states, particularly on Tamil Nadu, since even the already existing projects have not been given proper fund allocation. Based on the Railway Board’s letter to the Southern Railways, the Centre has now allocated just a paltry Rs. 1000 to show its disinterest towards the projects. This is not at all fair. I don’t understand the motive behind allocation of such a meagre amount for the railway projects. However, other than the Rameshwaram-Dhanushkodi project, the Centre has allocated Rs. 75 crores for revival of Madurai-Bodinayakanur route. The route was closed in 2010 for conversion of meter gauge into broad gauge. But the railway thought to give up the project. After seeing people’s protest, it took steps to expedite the conversion process. Under Passenger amenities ahead, a new work for an amount of Rs. 150 crores towards minimum essential amenities with more focus on facilities for Physically challenged persons at stations across southern railways has been sanctioned. Rs. 75 crores was sanctioned towards soft upgradation at stations. This is again very low considering the number of stations required to be upgraded in Tamil Nadu.The Metropolitan Chennai has been growing rapidly and traffic volumes have increased greatly. To promote and ease public transport of various forms including metro rail and to ensure that the share of public transportation in Chennai city is substantially increased was accorded top most priority by our beloved leader Dr. Kalaignar during his gold reign. A detailed feasibility report for the expansion of the Chennai Metro Rail Project Phase II along 3 corridors -North West to South East; West to East; and an orbital corridor for a length of 118.9 kms at an estimated cost of Rs. 69,180 crores is very important for the people of Chennai particularly my South Chennai Constituency which extend upto Sholinganallur and beyond. Also the integration of the Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS), with the Chennai Metro Rail is desirable and would enable effective synergies between various modes of public transport and increase share of public transport. I urge upon the Government to support the Phase II of the Metro Rail Project of Chennai and to ensure that all necessary clearances are provided expeditiously to fulfil the dream and aspirations of the people of Chennai to provide the much needed fillip to the public transport system in the Chennai Metropolitan City. Due to the introduction of New Metro Rail Policy by Government of India and updating the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) and Alternative Analysis for mode of transport, final DPR of Phase II Chennai Metro Rail Project has been sent to the Government of India for the approval on January 11, 2019. Out of 118.9 km, Japan International Co-operation Agency ( JICA) has already approved a loan of Rs. 20,196 crore for implementing the stretch of 52.01 km and agreement for first tranche of JICA loan has also been signed. For the remaining stretch, Rs. 18,328 crore has been approved in principle for the loan assistance from Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), New Development Bank (NDB) and World Bank. Therefore, I urge the Union Government to expedite the approval of the DPR of Phase II of Chennai Metro Rail Project. In Chennai Metropolitan City, the Central and Egmore railway stations are strategically important in the sub-urban railway EMU line connecting Chennai with several stations in Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Vellore District. There is an urgent need to have a skywalk connecting Central and Egmore stations. Many important railway crossings near Central and Egmore stations and in Chennai particularly the Elephant Gate Bridge needs to be renovated and strengthened. Therefore, I urge upon the Government to take up the redevelopment and modernization of railway stations at Chennai Central and Egmore in one go and also to provide much needed fillip to all the railway stations. I would like to point out the undue delay and the urgent need for the completion of extension of Chennai-MRTS route from Velachery to St. Thomas Mount. Another important demand of the people of my South Chennai Constituency is halting of South bound express trains at Saidapet Railway station. Both Saidapet Railway Station and Mylapore MRTS station requires escalator facilities both up and down. A good number of toilets with hygienic conditions and a feeding room for the benefit of lactating mothers should be provided at both the station. Thank you.

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