TRANS ASIAN RAIL LINK and INDIAN RAILWAY BUDGET

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Thiru.Manmohan Singh Hon’ble Union Minister of Railways Selvi.Mamata Banerjee Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Railways Thiru.E.Ahamad

Respected Prime Minister and Union Railway Minister

Subject: Urging inclusion in Union Budget the Indian component of Trans Asian Rail network and East Coast Rail link between Chennai and Cuddalore regarding

We, urge Indian Government to incorporate projects with international aspirations aimed at integrating India in a globalized economy and to pursue some initiatives taken so far but not implemented. Political will is needed to rise above petty politics and to pursue projects that would give boost to Indian economy. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific has for long been pushing for a 1, 14,000-km Trans Asian railway network that will connect Europe with Asia. ASEAN countries have entered into intergovernmental agreement with South Asian countries on the rail network which had come in to force from June, 2009 and will need investments worth $15 billion to connect the missing links. India and the ten-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had inked a duty-free trade agreement in August 2009 to strengthen economic relations.

 The only transportation link with the region is through a road in Moreh in Manipur and Tamu in Myanmar. With a broad gauge running throughout the region, infrastructure would not be a problem and the rail link could be connected on the existing line. A rail line can be built between India and Thailand through Bangladesh and Myanmar. There is already a railway line connecting India with Bangladesh but the only hurdle is the missing link in the form of Myanmar. There is roughly about 350 km between India and Myanmar that does not have a rail line. Of this about 150 km is in Indian Territory.

India conducted a feasibility study by RITES for a rail line between Jiribam-Moreh in India and Tamu-Kalay-Segyi in Myanmar in 2007, which is estimated to cost Rs4, 280 crore, but nothing concrete has materialized so far. The need of the hour in Railway Ministry should be towards these goals by extending Indian Railways eastward .Similarly let us look at the ground situation in westwards too. Media reported in 2009 about the possibility of train travel from London to India or even Dhaka in Bangladesh. The missing gap in the rails between Bam & Zahedan in Southeast Iran was finally completed in late 2008. So the rails do indeed now stretch all the way from St Pancras to Karachi, Lahore, Delhi & Dhaka, with just a short hop by ferry necessary across the Bosphorus in Istanbul (a gap due to be filled by the Bosphorus tunnel now under construction).

 We urge the Indian Prime Minister to take necessary steps diplomatically and by including this project as our goal domestically and earmarking funds to fill up the missing links within our country.

Chennai-Mamallapuram-Puducherry-Cuddalore

Southern Railway for long had been planning to lay a new line from Chennai to Cuddalore via Mamallapuram and Puducherry. The project is part of an ambitious plan chalked out by the railways to connect Chennai to towns along the East Coast all the way up to Kanyakumari. Though the entire line will be executed later on, the railway board has given the go ahead to build the line from Chennai to Cuddalore at a cost of Rs 523 crore. According to the approved alignment, the 179-km line will take off from Perungudi station on the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and traverse between Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and East Coast Road (ECR) before reaching Jipmer at Puducherry and Cuddalore. No timeframe has been fixed for completion of the line.

 After Perungudi, the line will pass through Sholinganallur, Kovalam, Tiruporur, Mamallapuram, Kalpakkam, Kuvathur, Cheyyur, Marakanam, Kunimedu, Kuiyilappalayam, and Jipmer in Puducherry, Bahour, Varakalpattu, Tirupadiripuliyur and Cuddalore Fort. The line will run close to the sea at Mamallapuram. The railway line will run on an embankment, and as most of the ECR does not have buildings on either side, travelers will be able to have a view of the sea. Surveys to identify passenger feasibility on the route have revealed that the line will be viable as more people are traveling from Chennai to Puducherry and Cuddalore because of the recent developments along the OMR and ECR. If the line starts from Perungudi, the operations wing has decided to operate EMUs from Chennai Beach via MRTS to Mamallapuram and conventional trains between Cuddalore and Mamallapuram via Puducherry. The board has approved the new line by including it in the supplementary budget of September 2007.

 We are awaiting the Union Budget of 2010.Yet we see no ray of hope, hence this urgent appeal. IF THIS BUDGET EXCLUDES THIS PROJECT AND NEGLECTS TAMILNADU, PEOPLE OF TAMILNADU WILL FEEL that step-motherly treatment is meted out to their state. Puducherry-Cuddalore Rail link was discussed between British and French in colonial era, funds allocated by French only to be diverted to other projects. Till that time, even after Independence, no Government thought of implementing this project. At least when the ambitious plan for new rail line between Chennai and Cuddalore was mooted, we thought the dream project will see the dawn. But we fear that Tamilnadu is going to be sidelined, and our desperate appeal to Union Railway Minister and our Prime Minister to initiate speedy steps to fulfill the aspirations of Tamil Nadu.

With Regards Yours fraternally

 N.Nandhivarman General Secretary DRAVIDA PERAVAI, Puducherry 605001, India

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