Mangaluru, June 04, 2019: It was a bombshell revelation that the Railway Ministry had substantially agreed to merge Mangaluru Railway Region, now under Southern Railway (SR), with South Western Railway (SWR) has come up through a reply from the Ministry to applications under the Right to Information Act.
Though the Ministry had decided to merge Mangaluru region as well as the network up to Thokur Railway Station of Konkan Railway in 2003 itself, a formal gazette notification was not issued as gauge conversion work between Hassan and Mangaluru was not completed.
Rail-fans in the coastal region who have been demanding this merger for decades following neglect of the region by the Southern Railway have now decided to agitate the matter and take it to a logical conclusion for the overall development of railway network in the coastal region.
Anil Hegde, advisor of Paschima Karavali Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samithi, toldThe Hindu that D.V. Sadananda Gowda had invited the then Railway Minister in the Vajpayee government Nitish Kumar to inspect the slow progress of gauge conversion between Mangaluru and Subrahmanya Road in 2003. Responding to the popular demand, then minister Nitish Kumar had then announced that Mangaluru region, including Thokur, would be brought under South Western Railway.
Though the Railway Ministry approved this proposal in January 2004 and communicated it to South Western Railway, it said that the decision would be given effect to after the gauge conversion work was completed and a gazette notification was issued. Despite completion of the gauge conversion work, the notification did not come out, Hegde lamented furiously.
A rail-fan Gautam Shetty, who filed an RTI application with the South Western Railway, got copies of the Railway Board’s approval to the proposal. He also got a copy of the reminder letter by South Western Railway’s Chief Operations Manager P. Ganeshwara Rao to the Ministry written on July 2, 2014, seeking a gazette notification.
Minister Sadananda Gowda was the Minister for Railways then, but the gazette notification did not come through, Shetty regretted.
Rail-fans have now decided to mount pressure on the Union government through the people’s representatives to give effect to the approval. Meanwhile, South Western Railway’s General Manager A.K. Singh said that it is for the Union government to take further action and pursue the issue.