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Prabhu to discuss rail projects with Andhra CM tomorrow

suresh-prabhu

Vijayawada: Establishment of a new Railway Zone, with headquarters at Visakhapatnam, is expected to be a top agenda when Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu meets Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu here tomorrow.

Prabhu, who has been just unanimously elected to Rajya Sabha from AP, will attend a high-level “restructured meeting” with the Chief Minister, MPs and top officials from the Railways.

This is the first time the Railway Minister will be attending a meeting in the new state along with the CM.

The state government has been seeking a new railway line to the Capital region of Amaravati and Naidu has already taken up the issue with Prabhu. Following this, the railways has commissioned a survey for the new line.

“The idea is to draw up a plan on how to develop AP and how we can help AP to realise its true potential,” Prabhu told reporters after receiving his RS election certificate this afternoon.

They would decide, at tomorrow’s meeting, “how we can go forward and develop together”, the Railway Minister added.

Setting up of a new railway zone at Visakhapatnam is a provision made in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014 but technical issues have caused delay in implementing it.

The Chief Minister had been repeatedly raising the issue with the Centre while the TDP MPs made a forceful plea in Parliament for the new railway zone. Now that the Railway Minister has been elected to Parliament from the State, fresh hopes have been pinned on him.

Similarly, many major railway projects in the state had remained incomplete for several years now. The State Government has come forward to take up these projects on a cost-sharing basis so that they could be completed fast.

The AP government, for example, agreed to bear 50 per cent of the cost and provide land free-of-cost for the long-pending Nadikudi-Srikalahasthi new rail line (309km).

The railways earmarked only Rs 90 crore for this project in the 2016-17 budget whereas the overall cost has crossed Rs 1314 crore. The State, on its part, sanctioned close to Rs 300 crore for land acquisition for the rail line.

The Kotipalli-Narsapuram (via Amalapuram) railway line project remained incomplete since 2000-01 and its cost has now escalated to Rs 650 crore. The railways earmarked Rs 200 crore for this project in the 2016-17 budget while the state agreed to share 25 per cent of the cost.

The 21.5-km Kakinada-Pithapuram line had been hanging fire since 1999-2000 and the project cost shot up to Rs 220.3 crore. This year, the railways made a provision of Rs 50 crore for this while the state agreed to give required land free-of- cost, AP Transport Minister Sidda Raghava Rao said.

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