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PILGRIMAGE: Union Minister of State for Railways K.M. Muniyappa (extreme right) reaches Sabarimala on a pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa Temple on Saturday night.
PATHANAMTHITTA: The Sabari rail project will be given adequate importance in the coming Railway Budget, K.H. Muniyappa, Union Minister of State for Railways, said here on Sunday. Mr. Muniyappa was talking to presspersons at Sabarimala after offering prayers at the Ayyappa temple on Sunday.
He said the Sabari project was launched 10 years ago, but work on only six kilometres from Angamaly could be taken up. The delay was due to the tardy progress in the acquisition of land.
He said the State government had to speed up the acquisition. The Union government was ready to allot the funds. Asked about the demand for realignment of the proposed Sabari rail route, Mr. Muniyappa said Railways considered the safety aspects and the shortest distance as the most important factors necessitating a realignment.
He said the State government's demand for a railway zone for Kerala was not practical.
When pointed out that Railways had not sent any official for a review meeting convened by Public Works Minister M. Vijayakumar preparatory to the Sabarimala pilgrimage, the Minister said the Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram, did not participate despite being invited because the official could not take any decision relating to policy matters. The General Manager of Southern Railway, who could do so, had attended meetings convened by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan in Thiruvananthapuram.
K. Cicily, Travancore Devaswom Board member, submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister, seeking better railway travel facilities for the pilgrims. The memorandum sought more special trains from different parts of South India for the Makaravilakku festival on January 14. It sought space for setting up Devaswom information centres at the railway stations at Thiruvalla, Chengannur, Kottayam, Chennai and Hyderabad.
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