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Expectations high on allocation for projects in rail budget

By S. Vydhianathan

CHENNAI, JULY 5. With the 12 Ministers, including the Union Minister of State for Railways, R. Velu, in the Union Cabinet, there is much expectation on allotment of funds for ongoing projects in Tamil Nadu in the Railway Budget to be presented tomorrow.

Altogether, 15 projects, most of them gauge conversion, are in various stages of progress needing substantial allocation for their early completion. Though none of them could be completed in the next financial year, a significant stretch could be converted if sufficient allocation is made in the budget.

As the Ministry had already announced closure of the Thanjavur-Tiruvarur and the Madurai- Manamadurai sections for conversion work, more funds are expected to be allotted for these works, which are part of the Tiruchi-Thanjavur-Nagore and the Madurai-Rameswaram projects.

In the Virudhunagar-Tenkasi-Kollam conversion project, the stretch from Virudhunagar to Tenkasi had already been completed. This year, the authorities will start work from the Kollam side and the Kollam-Punalur section will be taken up for conversion.

As the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, is interested in the conversion of the Tiruchi-Sivaganga-Manamadurai section, as Sivaganga being his constituency, sufficient funds may be allocated. Similarly, the Union Petroleum Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, wanted completion of work between Mayiladuturai and Kumbakonam, which is part of the Thanajavur-Villupuram project.

The Tenkasi-Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur, the Salem-Viruddhachalam conversion projects and a new line from Salem to Karur, have been pending for a long time and are likely to get a token sanction in the budget to keep them going, according to officials here.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety will inspect the newly-converted Rajapalayam-Tenkasi broad gauge line for three days from July 13. The portion is part of the Virudhunagar-Kollam project.

Chidambaram's plea

By Our Staff Reporter

MADURAI, JULY 5. The Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, has called for expediting the Tiruchi-Manamadurai gauge conversion project.

In a press release, Mr. Chidambaram said he had appealed to the Railway Minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, to allocate more funds for the long-pending project sanctioned in 2000-01. Though Rs. 20 crores was allocated, only Rs. 1 crore has been spent so far.

Mr. Chidambaram hoped that adequate funds would be earmarked for the project in the coming railway budget.

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