Sunday, Dec 22, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
For the past couple of months, the PMK's Minister of State for Railways, A.K. Moorthy, has been trying to bring all party MPs together at least on such common issues as demanding a better deal for the State in Railway projects. He convened a couple of meetings himself in Chennai and then in Madurai to review all projects and identify specific areas which needed a push. The delegation's call on the Railway Minister is seen as a culmination of this `build-up' for more funds to Tamil Nadu.
The two PMK Ministers A.K. Moorthy and N.T. Shanmugham two BJP Ministers, Pon. Radhakrishnan and Su. Thirunavukkarasar and the MDMK Minister, Gingee Ramachandran, led the delegation. DMK Members of Parliament, when contacted, said they were not aware of such a delegation calling on the Minister. Topping the list of demands was the clearance for new lines Karur-Salem, Bangalore-Sathyamangalam and Taramani-Mammalapuram. A host of gauge conversion projects that the delegation sought included Thanjavur-Kumbakonam-Villupuram, Cuddalore-Vriddhachalam-Salem, Chengalpattu-Villupuram, Madurai-Dindigul-Pollachi and Virudhunagar-Manamadurai.
The MPs wanted early completion of the doubling of line in the Irugur-Coimbatore and Attipattu-Korukkupet lines, besides sanction for the doubling of the Villupuram-Tiruchi-Madurai section. They also demanded a Palace on Wheels train for Tamil Nadu, beautification of the Mettupalayam mountain railway to attract more tourists and early completion of the next phase of the Mass Rapid Transit System for Chennai from Tirumailai to Velacherry. The MPs wanted two rakes of the Jana Shatabdi variety for the State, for introduction in January itself, besides seeking regularisation of two special trains now in operation the Kudal express between Chennai Egmore and Madurai and the Tambaram-Tiruvannamalai passenger.
Most of these have been the `pet projects' of Mr. Moorthy, but the delegation made sure that all the regional requirements as well as the ``essential projects'' the fourth line from Pattabiram to Tiruvallur and the third line from Tiruvallur to Arakkonam were also included in the ``priority list'' submitted to the Railway Minister.
Mr. Nitish Kumar has been invited to lay the foundation stone for the Egmore-Madras Central link line, for which sanction has already been given and preliminary works have commenced.
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