As per current estimates, Rs.400 crore is needed for completing track doubling on the Ernakulam-Kayamkulam sector via Kottayam and Alappuzha. Of this, Rs.100 crore is needed for the Kuruppanthura-Chingavanam section.
An amount of Rs.80 crore each is needed for Mulanthuruthi-Kuruppanthura and Chingavanam-Chengannur sections, Rs.50 crore each for Ernakulam-Kumbalam and Kumbalam-Thuravoor, and Rs. 40 crore for Ambalapuzha-Harippad section.
Official sources told The Hindu that the doubling of these six sections, needed to overcome the line constraints in the saturated section, was likely to drag on as the amount was unlikely to be sanctioned even in the 2014-15 budget due to the financial crisis faced by Railways.
The nominal progress in track doubling in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts was another concern.
For Ernakulam-Kumbalam sector, where doubling was sanctioned in 2010-11, Rs.4 crore was provided in the budget in 2010-11, Rs.25 crore in 2011-12, Rs.20 crore in 2012-13 and Rs.1 crore in 2013-14. As the Railway Board had not given the nod for the estimate of the section, the allotted funds were surrendered by the zonal railways every year.
As the project cost for track in the section has mounted to Rs.189.24 crore, including the cost of land (Rs.51.53 crore), Railways had approached the State for providing the land free of cost.
Sharing 50 per cent of the work cost for the Ernakulam-Kumbalam section is another condition put forward for expediting the work.
Official sources said the government had already informed Railways that the financial condition of the State exchequer did not allow for investments in such a large scale as sought by Railways.
While doubling work on the entire stretch via Kottayam had been approved long ago,
Railways was yet to give the green signal for the work on the 45-km Ambalappuzha-Thuravur section.
Those in the construction wing of Railways said that they could not set a target for commissioning the 173 route km double line via Kottayam and Alappuzha as even land had not been acquired.
(The Hindu dt 9-12-2013)