[Following the strong protest led by Gote and blockade of Mumbai-Agra Road on December 12, 2007, a fresh survey was ordered by the railway ministry under Lalu Prasad Yadav. (ummid.com File Photo)]
Malegaon: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the 2016 Railway Budget approved the Manmad-Indore railway line via Malegaon-Dhule and allocated the needed funds for the construction of 339km new railway line – demands for which were raised since more than hundred years.
This is the second time Railway Ministry has given nod to Manmad-Indore railway line via Malegaon-Dhule. In 2012, then Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi had included this project in the 2012 Railway Budget.
When Lalu Prasad Yadav was Railway Minister, he had ordered feasibility survey of this project. When Suresh Prabhu presented his first railway budget in 2015, he ordered a fresh survey allocating a fund of Rs.1.32 cr for the purpose.
Besides Manmad-Indore railway line the ministry has also sanctioned new works on 10 other routes. They include Pune-Nashik, Vaibhavwadi-Kolhapur, the fourth line between Jalgaon-Bhusawal, Daund-Manmad doubling, Manmad-Jalgaon third line, Wardha-Nagpur fourth line, Jeur-Aashti, Latur-Nanded via Loha, Ahmednagar, Gadchandur-Adilabad and Jalna-Khamgaon is being undertaken in FY17.
The Indore-Manmad railway line via Malegaon- Dhule costing a total of about Rs.10,000 crore rupees will be completed in partnership with the state governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
“The union government has allocated the 50% cost of the project i.e. 4,900 crore rupees. The remaining 50% will be shared by the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments”, Dr. Subhash Bhamre, Member of Parliament Dhule-Malegaon parliamentary constituency, said while talking to ummid.com.
Dr. Bhamre is consistently working, since 2014 when he was elected to the parliament, for the approval and successful complementation of this project. Coordinating with six MPs representing the areas which fall along the 339km route, Bhamre held a series of meeting with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the last two years. He also contacted Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chuohan through Lok Sabha Speaker Smitra Mahajan seeking his government’s support for the project.
The demand for the Manmad-Indore railway line via Malegaon-Dhule is not new. The first ever survey for this railway route, which is supposed to pass through Malegaon, Dhule, Nerdana, Shirpur and Mahu before culminating at Indore, was done long before the independence in 1908.
However, Prof A. Majeed Siddiqui claims, due to the ‘strong resistance’ the colonial forces had received in Malegaon, the city could not win the favour of the British Government. The situation for the region remained more or less the same even after the independence.
“Also, because most of the people on this 339-km stretch are backward, the successive governments turned down their demands terming the project as non-profitable”, Prof Siddiqui observes.
In between, the demands for this rail line were consistently raised with regular interval. It was however Anil Gote, now in BJP and representing Dhule Central Assembly seat, who revived the efforts in this regard in November-December 2007.
Following the strong protest led by Gote and blockade of Mumbai-Agra Road on December 12, 2007, a fresh survey was ordered by the railway ministry under Lalu Prasad Yadav.
According to Anil Gote, the findings of the survey showed that if the new railway route actually takes the shape, Delhi-Mumbai rail distance would be reduced by 140 kms, Indore-Mumbai distance would come down from the existing 830 kms to 580 kms, and travelling from Jammu to Kanyakumari by Jammu Tawai Express will be shortened by 682 kms.
“Besides this, the survey report also showed that the rate of return is 22% and within three years the entire project cost would be recovered”, he said.
The project even though sanctioned by the railway ministry under Dinesh Trivedi could not be completed as the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh was not ready to share the 25% cost even though the Congress government in Maharashtra allocated the remaining 25% of the project in its budget.
In fact, the matter even went to the court and in December 2013, the Madhya Pradesh High Court pulled up the state government for the delay in implementation of Indore- Manmad rail line project and asked if the state would give its share of money to the project or not.
Hearing a PIL by Manoj Marathe, the double bench of Chief Justice Ajay M Khanwilkar and Justice Shantanu Kemkar observed that the project is crucial for development of tribal areas of Malwa- Nimar and should not be delayed on any excuse.
The court was informed that the Union and Maharashtra governments are ready to give their shares of money for the project but the MP government is not clearing its stand. The petitioner claimed that the project cost has escalated from Rs 1750 crore in 2004 to Rs 4000 in 2013.
“The cost of the project has gone further up because of this delay”, MP Subhash Bhamre said.
He said as against earlier estimate of about 4000 crore rupees we will now need about 10,000 crores for completion.
“It is becuase we have to pay four times more to purchase the lands required to lay the railway tracks and fulfill other requirements”, he said.
He also said that all stakeholders are now making it sure that the project is not delayed any further.
“The Maharashtra government has already agreed to share the cost of the project. The biggest hurdle is to convince the Madhya Pradesh government. Chief Minister Chouhan has agreed in principal. I will be meeting him along with six other MPs of the region very soon to get the formal sanction from the MP gpvernment”, Bhamre said.