Tuesday, Oct 01, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
Despite an announcement by the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, that the Devagiri Express would be extended to Nizamabad once the gauge works were completed, protests by the Shiv Sena and the Marathawada Railway Sangharsh Samiti activists have put a question mark over the extension. The protestors have warned that they would not allow the train to run beyond Nanded.
The Devagiri Express would have been extended to Nizamabad from the day the newly-converted BG line was thrown open to passenger traffic. In this case, only a passenger train is being inaugurated on October 3, by the Minister of State for Railways, Bandaru Dattatreya, to avoid any trouble on the occasion. The threat from the activists has forced the South Central Railway authorities to defer the extension of the Devagiri Express.
The throwing open of the new BG line is a dream come true for the people here, as they had agitated for the last five years for an early completion of the work. As the people of the area are gearing up for the extension, the agitations in Nanded district, have caused severe resentment here.
At present, the Nanded railway station, about 120 km from here, has two daily Express trains going to Mumbai. The Tapovan Express leaves in the morning while the Devagiri Express is considered a convenient overnight train for the people planning to reach Mumbai early next day. In addition to this, Nanded-Pune tri-weekly Express was introduced recently to ease the heavy flow of traffic from the Marathawada region.
Trouble was brewing ever since it became clear that the Nizamabad-Dharmabad BG line would be inaugurated. The Shiv Sena and the Sangarsh Samiti argued that if the Devagiri Express originated from Nizamabad, the people of Nanded would be deprived of reservation facilities. With major railway stations, including Nanded in the SCR jurisdiction, having computerised reservation facility, getting confirmed tickets is very easy. They are in no mood to listen to this reasoning and are determined that the Devagiri Express should not be extended.
Instead, they have suggested that a new express train be started from Nizamabad towards Mumbai, to meet the needs of the people of Nizamabad and Karimnagar districts. Now, over two dozen private luxury and 15 APSRTC buses ply from Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Siddipet and Mancherial for Mumbai, carrying hundreds of people, going to Gulf countries. This train would have provided convenient connection to Mumbai. The railway officials have provided an option saying that the ideal rake of Nanded-Pune tri-weekly, which is idle for four days could be run upto Mumbai. They advised the agitators that the Devagiri Express should be allowed to originate from Nizamabad.
But, this suggestion has not cut ice with the Shiv Sena and the Sangarsh Samiti. They maintained that instead of extending the Devagiri Express, the empty rakes could be operated as a new Express train between Nizamabad and Nanded. The officials tried in vain to explain that injustice would be done to people of Nizamabad. The plea from the railway authorities that the proposal for extension of the Devagiri Express had the consent of the Marathawada MPs has not convinced the agitators.
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