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Karnataka and Indian Railways.. 
Colossal wastage of available resources or is it sheer madness of the authorities concerned
GS Prasanna Kumar

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This is not another story of a scam by any individual or body corporate or any banker, but is the result of sheer carelessness, lack of positive attitude and war of egos.

This article is a compilation of the stories of utter failure on the part of various government agencies with full knowledge about the possible consequences as also the wastage of precious resources.

Let us take the projects pertaining to the good old network of our country – Railways. Should we put any fresh light to the fact that our State has always been and is still treated with step-motherly attitude by various Union Governments in terms of the development of Railway network. Have a look at the Railway map of our State as also the operative part, do we see the nerves as it should be in a body. Count it and it is not more than 3 lines – Bangalore-Mysore; Bangalore-Hubli & Mangalore-Karwar, the other two lines are for the benefit of the neighboring States rather than our State benefiting from it. It would further seem as though four different corporates are just using our State as a junk yard.

Southern Railway – thinks as if its main goal is to see that the State of Tamilnadu remains on top and if at all anything is left over (read as thangalanna), it would be thrown to the face of our State.

South Central Railway – same as above, more concerned towards Andhra Pradesh.

Konkan Railway – any difference? More concerned towards catering the needs of Maharashtra, and finally;

South Western Railway – If at all we were lucky to get our own zone – our so called great politicians, remember the story of two monkeys battling over a piece of chapathi – Enter the cat and nothing remains; similar is the case with us; in the battle of north v/s south, the zone is nowhere (some don’t even remember the name of this zone). Ever gone through the records of the Railway to see the yearly allotment to this Railway; poor guys are always dependent on their big brothers Southern & South Central. Should we pity them or our State machinery?

Every year the Ministry of Railways allocates funds for execution of various projects in our State; true, on every Railway budget speech, lots of hungama is made and some projects do find themselves a place in the speech. Great achievement; but they do not live forever; they are hung in some record room for years together.

Want an example – Every Bangalorean would remember the fact that till recently say three years back, people had forgotten that there existed a Railway line between Yeshavantpur & Baiyyappanahalli. Some had even encroached to the extent of bringing up commercial/residential establishments on the track; a tar road was made to run over the track covering it completely and shops and other temporary sheds were brought up by the road sides, so as to make it look like any other normal road. It is learnt that the Railway officials had to run from pillar to post to make sure that their track got its life; though they succeeded to temporarily remove the encroachments, it did not last for long enough time. The position as of now is far worse than could be imagined. Three parties, the local public, State Government and the Railways, blaming each other; loss of Crores of rupees for conversion of metre gauge to broad gauge; loss of precious resources in terms of a viable network running through the heart of the city, which could be used prominently; who cares; its like middle class people of slightly foolish nature talking about having a cup of coffee in some 7-star hotel; in semblance, the State Govt. have been talking about some sort of unusual new concept of elevated rail network for our city, which now stands scrapped. Fools, are we not?

Similar subject – We have been hearing for long time now of Bangalore-Mysore Express Highway. Any sane person would laugh at it. Do we need such an expressway, for it would mean, we would be having more number of vehicles plying to & fro our city, as if those on our roads are very less; naturally more pollution, sound as well as air; ever imagined how many trees have already been felled and are in the verge of losing their lives because of this foolish project, which would have been brought up by an insane person to fill up the stomachs of power & money mongers. The surprising factor is that the State manages to pull in the required funds sourcing it to some World Bank loan. It is a puzzle for we do not know whom are we appeasing by cutting swords with environmentalists as also the poor farmers and even evicting thousands of villagers to execute this infamous expressway.

A rather simple solution would be to widen the existing road, bring to national highway standards, provide bye-passes for city/town and parallelly have the existing Railway line doubled. By any imagination a Railway double line from Bangalore to Mysore would be fetching more returns to the Government, would be serving in a better way to the public in general and our State in particular. Once doubled till Mysore, the Railway administration would naturally have no objection to extend the existing Chennai-Bangalore operations upto Mysore. The total cost of this, believe it, we are talking about the collective cost of widening of existing road and also laying of one more Railway line, would be only Rs. 200 Crore; Its horrible state of affairs that the politicians & bureaucrats of our State are bent upon spending wastefully more than Rs. 1000 Crore for the proposed Expressway.

A brave decision was taken by some officials of both Central & State Governments recently to evict some of the encroachments on Bangalore-Mysore section. However, politicians as usual tried to get political mileage by sympathizing with the evicted encroachers. During the current year, Railway has made certain allotment for the doubling project up to Ramanagaram. It is surprising that nothing is visible on the part of starting the basic process of doubling work – Is there any conspiracy amongst the bureaucrats of Railways, State Govt. and the Corporate bodies involved in executing the infamous Expressway? Its as foolish as paying Rs. 150/- for a cup of coffee, when you get the best one for Rs. 3.50. It’s as similar to this example that the excess expenditure involved for the final execution of that infamous project would be costing 43 times more, than the option given above, which would be serving in a better way to the public and the State.

Already the bureaucrats of State & Central Governments have done the utmost foolish job of executing the Cable Stayed Bridge at Krishnarajapuram. 60 Crore, when the conventional method 4 lane or even 6 lane bridge would not have cost more than Rs. 6-8 Crore.

Such foolish decisions, and why are we still saying that ours is a developing poor country. We are rich, very rich in fact that we waste money like nobody does.

Bangalore gets well connected to the neighboring States through Chennai route, Salem route, Dharmavaram/Guntakal route where train speeds are higher and the frequency of services are better. True it is, these routes are better serving the public of neighboring States rather than actually serving our State. When you think of rail connection within the State, nothing worth mentioning is available to connect Bangalore to any of the important cities of the State. The only prominent train for our people would be Kittur Rani Chennamma Express from Bangalore to Hubli/ Belgaum.

The only rail link to the hinterland of the State from Mangalore port through Mangalore-Hassan line is suspended for more than 6 years now and no protest or noise is heard by any of the parliamentarians. Kannadigas are well known for their patience; want any other proof. Whether in any other State like Kerala, Tamilnadu or for that matter even Andhra Pradesh, would their people have tolerated to forego the already existing train services for such a long period.

Amongst other things required to be done for the development of railway network in our State, the Railway administration could concentrate on doubling of Bangalore-Tumkur line, which is put at rest now by them, and also increasing speed in Bangalore-Hubli section would help in providing faster & efficient services to Northern Karnataka.

Everybody is aware that the construction of new Railway lines and conversion of existing lines would be carried out by Railways on the requirement & request of the local population. Every year, sufficient allotments are made upon the requests of the respective States for carrying out various projects viz. conversion/construction of new lines. It is not understood as to why our State Govt. is poking its nose by publicly coming out with unwarranted statements of providing necessary funds for taking up various Railway projects in the State of Karnataka. Result – We have been hearing about various Corporations set up by the State Govt. of Karnataka for this purpose – K-RIDE, IdECK, HM-RIDE, what not? These Corporations seem to be housing only certain blue-collared bureaucrats rather than actually carrying out any work. It would not be out of place to mention that many of the projects are not being executed by Railways since our State Govt. have come up with the proposal of providing necessary funds for executing the same. The allotments for those projects by the Railways have gone unused for several years now and the same would be done during this financial year also. It is surprising that why should our State, when they are not in a position to feed themselves, would come out with irresponsible statements everyday of funding the Railway projects. It would be better for our Govt. to let the Railways do their work by bringing sufficient pressure for executing the same rather than making unwarranted statements, which in turn would hamper the progress of various projects, that otherwise would have been commissioned on its own.

Finally, Bangalore is the only metro city in our country, which is growing at such a pace without actually having any metro rail system. All other cities viz. Mumbai, Kolkata & Chennai are having their own metro rail system. New Delhi & Hyderabad also are in the process of getting its metro rail system. It would be beneficial for the population of this city if the State and the Ministry of Railways would come to a final conclusion in providing a feasible metro rail system for our city. Continuing with the earlier suggestion, it is surprising that why nobody thinks of upgrading the existing rail network, which crosses the heartland of city to suit metro trains.

Hopefully the concerned authorities would listen and plan in a sane manner for the development of our State.


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