Mangaluru, Sep 19,2017: Making every possible effort to improve rail connectivity between the State capital and coastal Karnataka, coastal people have now petitioned the new Railway Minister Piyush Goyal with their demand to divert the Bengaluru-Karwar night express via the newly opened Bengaluru-Hassan line.
The plea appears to have got more weight with RSS nominee in BJP, B.L. Santhosh, introducing the rail activists to the Minister during his visit to Bengaluru. Incidentally, Minister Goyal is one of the two Central ministers in-charge of BJP affairs in poll-bound Karnataka. The activists were led by Kundapura Rail Users’ Association representative Gautam Shetty, Jai Bhargava Balaga Bengaluru representative Ajith Shetty Kiradi, and others.
Asked whether the Railway authorities have become so insensitive to the decades-long demand that his intervention was required, Santhosh said it cannot be said he was intervening in the issue.
He merely took the activists to the Minister who came to meet him. It was the Railway Minister’s first visit to the party office, he added. Santhosh said the Minister heard the activists patiently and promised to offer a solution. “It was not just Bengaluru-Karwar train issue. We discussed several issues related to Railway development in Karnataka along with the MLAs and MPs from the party with the Railway Minister,” said Santhosh.
In a memorandum submitted to Goyal, the delegation pointed out that thousands of people from coastal Karnataka are residing in Bengaluru for employment, education, and other purposes. With inconvenient train facility, they are forced to depend on road transport dominated by private buses paying hefty sums. They are also bearing the brunt of risks related to road transport, including lack of comfort and safety. As such, they have been demanding diversion of Bengaluru-Karwar overnight train via Shravanabelagola where the distance gets reduced by over 100 km and travel time by about four hours.
Though the South Western Railway’s Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Committee had recommended the diversion, it was not implemented for unknown reasons, the delegation said. SWR is still indifferent to the demand despite cohesive demand from people’s representatives from coastal region, trade bodies, and other associations.
Minister Goyal was receptive to their problems and promised to look into them.