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`Project Unigauge' likely to be included in the 11th plan

Staff Correspondent

20 per cent of rail lines yet to be converted into broad gauge



BIG PLANS: Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu addressing the press in Hubli on Sunday. Revenue Minister Jagadish Shettar (left) and General Manager of South Western Railway Trilok Nath Perti are seen.

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HUBLI: The Railways has plans to include the proposal to bring the entire rail network in country under broad gauge in the 11th Five Year Plan, Minister of State for Railways R. Velu has said.

Addressing presspersons after laying the foundation stone for the new Hubli Railway Station Complex here on Sunday, he said 20 per cent of the railway lines in the country were still under metr egauge and narrow gauge.

He said that of the 63,000 km of railway lines in the country about 13,000 km was under metre gauge. And steps were being taken under the "Project Unigauge" for gauge conversion, he added.

The Minister said that Karnataka was better placed compared with Tamil Nadu with regard to broad gauge railway lines. He said of the 4,000 km of railway lines that pass through the State, 1,800 km was under metre gauge.

To a question, Mr. Velu said there was no proposal to shift the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) from Bangalore to Hubli, the headquarters of South Western Railway. He said it was not mandatory that the RRB office should be at the headquarters of the zone concerned.

Favourable order

Regarding the recent order on keeping name boards on train only in English and Hindi and giving exemption to the rule in Tamil Nadu, the Minister clarified that Tamil was given exemption as there was no three-language policy in Tamil Nadu.

Clarifying that the Railways was not against Kannada, he said the Ministry was trying to pass a favourable order in this regard. Keeping Kannada name boards on trains that run within the State was also being contemplated, he said.

Mr. Velu clarified that the issue of giving clearance to Hubli-Ankola railway line was before the Supreme Court's Empowerment Committee. Asked why the work had been stopped when the Empowerment Committee had not given a stay, the Minister said the work in forest areas could not be undertaken unless a clearance was obtained from the committee.

On why the work on the project in the non-forest area had also been stopped, Trilok Nath Perti, General Manager of South Western Railway, clarified that unless the entire project got the clearance, even work in non-forest areas could not be continued.

Bagalkot-Gadag line

Mr. Perti said the State Government had to pay only Rs. 9 crore towards the gauge conversion work on Bagalkot-Gadag line. It had remitted the remaining amount. He said the Railways was planning to complete the work by October 2007.

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