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Gauge conversion work resumes

Staff Reporter

Police provide protection for workers

— Photo: C. SURESH KUMAR

Back on track: Railway gauge conversion work in progress at Kilikollur on Friday.

KOLLAM: The gauge conversion work in the Kollam-Punalur railway section that came to a halt on July 7 resumed on Friday under police protection.

Railways expressed satisfaction over the police arrangements made by the district administration at Kilikollur where the work was resumed.

The work came to a halt in the wake of local people attacking the workers from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh engaged in welding the joints of the newly laid tracks. They wanted Railways to entrust the job to them. The railway authorities rejected the demand on grounds that the work should be done only by skilled workers.

Following the attack, the workers left for their native places after informing the authorities that they would not resume the work unless adequate police protection was provided.

The railway authorities sought the intervention of District Collector A. Shajahan and District Superintendent of Police M.R. Ajith Kumar for settling the issue. Mr. Shajahan called a meeting on July 11. Adoor MP Chengara Surendran, Kollam Dy.SP C.G. Suresh Kumar and railway officials attended the meeting. It was decided not to entertain the demand from the local people for safety reasons, and resume the work on July 18 under police protection. The district administration and the police authorities assured protection to the workers till the work is completed. The railway authorities said on Friday that 65 welding workers and supervisors were engaged in the work. By the end of the day, welding work on 50 joints was completed. The strength of the work force would be increased to 100 within two days, they added.

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