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*SHRI P. MOHAN (MADURAI): Hon'ble Deputy Speaker Sir, I thank you for the opportunity you have provided me to take part in this discussion on supplementary demands for grants for Railways 1999-2000. I would like to bring to the notice of the Hon'ble Railway Minister certain points pertaining to South of Tamil Nadu and my Madurai constituency in particular. Considering the increased rail-traffic and the ever growing need to augment the rail services to link Chennai with Kanyakumari, laying of double line is necessary. As such double line is there upto Chennai. But there is a definite need to have double line between Chennai and Kanyakumari. Hence I urge upon the Railway Minister to take up the project to ensure double line between Chennai and Kanyakumari. Likewise there is an urgent need to restore many train services that were stopped or withdrawn when gauge conversion work was on. All such trains that were running must be restored. In our constituency Gujarathi, Maratha and Sourashtra people live in sizeable number. When I was speaking to our Railway Minister, she said that there are good number of Bengalis living there. I welcome it. Hence I want to emphasize the need to introduce a train between Kanyakumari and Jodhpur. Likewise the train that runs between Howrah and Tiruchirappalli should be extended upto Madurai. There used to be a train running between Madurai and Tirupathi. Due to gauge conversion that has been withdrawn. Lots of passengers and pilgrims used to depend on that to go to Tirupathi and beyond. Hence I urge upon the Railways to restore this train service between Madurai and Tirupathi now as an express train. There used to be several day express trains between Chennai and Madurai. Some of them are to be restored yet. Koodal Express and Mahal Express rail should have services extended further.

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*Translation of the speech originally delivered in Tamil.

There was a proposal from the Hon. Railway Minister Kum. Mamataji about the unmanned level crossings to involve MPs who may apportion funds from their local area development funds. I feel it is an appreciable and welcome one. I appreciate the level crossings proposal made by our Hon. Minister Miss Mamataji.

In order to bear the burden that may arise due to the extending of rail services to Madurai city, we may have to take into consideration the load the Madurai railway junction can handle as of now. I understand that it has already been selected to be upgraded. I wish the Railways expedite the same. Some part of the burden on New Delhi Railway Station is now passed on to Nizamuddin Railway Station. Similarly when several train services are extended to Madurai Junction, situated in the middle of the city which is not able to bear heavy traffic congestion, an alternative could be thought of. For instance, Koodal Nagar Railway Station can be extended further to accommodate more rail traffic. Boarding and alighting points could be shifted there as an additional terminal. As far as Madurai is concerned it is an important city in the southern Tamil Nadu. It is like a capital city to southern districts. It is in fact a second capital of Tamil Nadu. Hence the extending of several train services to Madurai would benefit people of this region in so many ways.

Now let me come to rail coaches. Our railways have even started manufacturing stainless steel coaches. But what we see as coaches running between Chennai and Madurai and in several other passenger trains running in the southern districts are not good rail coaches. Many of them are new trains most often run with old coaches. In the beginning just a day or two we would find new coaches, but soon after that only old coaches would be there in damaged conditions that would require maintenance and repair. We proudly talk about coaches we make in stainless steel. But we do not find express trains run with matching coaches. Suitable coaches must be fitted suitably in express trains.

There are several problems faced by railway men that call for Government's attention. Several of their demands are pending with the Railways. They are yet to be attended to for several years now. Our trade union DREU, Dakshin Railway Employees' Union, has taken up several employees' grievances which are yet to be redressed. Hon. Railway Minister may kindly look into their grievances gearing up the redressal mechanism. DREU is still awaiting a formal recognition from the Railway administration. DREU has a sterling historical record of its own. It has an enviable record of participating in the freedom struggle. A trade union with such a noble history and tradition is yet to be recognised even after 52 years of independence. It is also a fact that even trade unions that emerged later have been recognised. I have brought these things to your notice now while taking part in this discussion on supplementary demands for grants. I would like to request you to include in your full-fledged Budget the laying of double line between Chennai and Kanyakumari.

With this I conclude my speech.

*SHRI GUTHA SUKENDER REDDY (NALGONDA): Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, the first loco took off on 16th April in 1853 from Bombay towards its destination Thane. Since then the Railways in the country have developed tremendously and became a part and parcel of country's social and economic development.

Stretched to a length of 63,000 kms, the Indian Railways have been playing a vital role in transporting both freight and passengers from one part of the country to another. Thus the Railways have become an important wing of our transport system by transporting not less than 1.1 million tonnes of goods everyday. Daily the Railways transport various goods ranging from steel to cement, from fertilizers to fodder and milk, from foodgrains to fruits and vegetables, from small items to gigantic machines.

Railways are serving the nation by linking villages, towns and cities bringing together the people from different life styles and languages making the nation more integrated. They are the lifelines of our society and development.

The Indian Railways have been running 7525 passenger trains carrying nearly 11 million travellers to their respective destinations, linking all the States by passing through mountains, rivers, deserts, valleys and tunnels. It is the only mode of transport which is cheaply and conveniently available to a common man in the country.

But Sir, we need to take many steps to make the Railways which have the glorious history of nearly 150 years to make it safe and sound. During the last 3 years 1289 persons have lost their precious lives due to railway accidents. A former Minister in Andhra Pradesh Cabinet had also lost his life due to a Railway accident. 2594 persons were injured. The main reason for these accidents are age-old tracks which have not witnessed any modernisation, absence of technological upgradation and failure on the part of those who are ______________________________________________________________________________

*Translation of speech originally delivered in Telugu.

responsible for running the railways safely and efficiently. Accidents continue uninterruptedly even to this day, in spite of the just criticism of its functioning emanating from all sections of the society throughout the country. It is really very strange that the Railways have not taken any note of this monumental criticism. Accidents are still taking place. It is time to sit up and tighten the belt and take effective steps to contain the ever increasing accidents.

It is time to put a stop to the policy of blaming earlier Governments for the accidents and to take effective steps to avert the accidents in the future.

The absence of cleanliness in Railways attracts almost everyone's attention. 'Green and clean' is the motto of our State Government headed by our able leader Shri Chandrababu Naidu. I request the Ministry of Railways to emulate the example of our beloved leader Shri Chandrababu Naidu under whose leadership the State is marching ahead to become 'Swarnandhra Pradesh'. The 'Green and clean' programme is being implemented by all the departments. Railways should also see to it that Railway Stations and their surroundings and railway bogies are made free of dirt and foul smell.

Both the print and electronic media have been criticising the railways saying that the Railways are not clean. Their bogies emanate foul and filthy smell all the time, running without any punctuality on the age old obsolete tracks. But Railways have not at all bothered about this criticism. There is no improvement. The railway stations especially in rural areas in a horrible shape.

Steps should be taken on warfooting to improve the conditions in our railway stations. The railways should at once formulate action programme and implement them in all earnestness in order to achieve alround cleanliness.

The Railways should be modernised so as to make comparable with the existing system in developed countries. Gauge conversion should be taken. The age old tracks should at once be replaced with new ones. Signalling system should also be computerised. Unmanned level crossings should be converted into manned level crossings. Steps should be taken to maintain punctuality in running the trains. Railways stations should be made neat and clean. Whenever necessary new constructions should also be taken up. It should also be seen that at least minimum facilities are provided in the coaches for passengers. New bogies should be introduced and track checking should be done from time without fail. These are some of the slips on which the Railway Ministry should concentrate in order to improve their image in the public.

We have been competing successfully with the developed world in all spheres. But as far as Railways are concerned we are still lagging behind. We have failed either to satisfy people or to achieve any progress.

We have been increasing the freight and traffic tariff from time to time in order to meet the mounting expenses of the Railways. But are we providing the amenities at the same level. No. The train journey which was within the reach of a common man has now become a luxury. It is out of reach of the common man already. In spite of going on enhancing the fare we have failed miserable to make available minimum facilities in the trains for a common man. An honest self-introspection is the need of the hour.

After independence how many new railway lines have been constructed? How many of our villages have been connected by railways? How many new lines have been completed and made operational. The answer is 'negligible'. The construction programme of new lines is going on at a snails pace for want of adequate funds.

Coming to Andhra Pradesh, it is the State which is in second position after Punjab in paddy cultivation. It has been exporting coal to all parts of the country. It occupies a prominent place in cement production. It also occupies an important position in the import export trade of the country. It occupies the first and foremost place in the information technology sector. And yet it is far behind other States in development of Railways in the State. Even 50 years after the country achieved independence in 1947 only a mere 229 route kms were added in the State. It is highly unfortunate. Our State has been meted out stepmotherly treatment even in the matter of gauge conversion. 1015 kms of metre gauge lines are yet to be converted to broadgauge.

Andhra Pradesh, which is surging ahead to become 'Swarnandhra Pradesh', has only 1628 1628 kms of double line out of 4250 kms railway lines. 91.5 kms long Nalgonda-Macherla railway line was sanctioned in 1997-98 with an estimated cost of Rs 125.09 crores. But till March, 1999, no allocations have been made in the successive budgets for this purpose. Similarly in 1996-97 sanction was accorded to Nandyal-Erraguntla line with an estimated cost of Rs 164.36 crores. But only Rs 1.17 crores have been spent till March, 1999. It is more than 3 years and I do not know how with this kind of allocation when it is going to be completed. Another railway line namely PeddapalliKarimnagar-Nizamabad line with a length of 177.49 kms was sanctioned in 1993-94 costing Rs 264 crores. It is more than 6 years now. Only 21.14 crores have been spent on this line till March, 1999, and only Peddapalli-Karimnagar (Phase I) has been completed so far.

Though 45 kms long Kakinada-Kotipalli line was sanctioned way back in 1995-96, no allocation whatsoever was made for this line so far.

In 1997-98, 232.25 kms long Muniraba-Mahbubnagar line with a cost of Rs 469 crores was sanctioned; in 1998-99, 60 kms long Gadwal-Raichur line with a cost of Rs 100 crores. In 1999-2000, another line namely Kakinada-Pithapuram line with a length of 21 kms and cost of Rs 41 crores was sanctioned.

For all these lines allocations have been quite negligible and as a result there is no progress at all. I request the Hon. Minister to provide sufficient funds for completion of these lines in time.

Similarly, barring Guntur-Guntakal-Kallur line the gauge conversion of Pakala-Tirupathi, Mudked-Adilabad, Bollarum-Seconderabad-Dronachalan, Secunderabad-Mudked, Janakampet-Bodhan, Dharmavaram-Pakala are not progressing at proper speed due to non-availability of funds.

I appeal to the Hon. Minister of Railways to see that required funds are released at once for the early completion of conversion of the above lines.

As far as double lines in the State are concerned, except the Vikarabad-Tandur double line which was sanctioned in 1987-88, there is no progress whatsoever in the already sanctioned Vijayawada-Krishna Canal, Hospet-Guntakal, Gudur-Ranigunta, Bibinagar-Nadikudi double lines achieved so far.

The construction of over bridges has also been neglected in our State. As a part of Swarnandhra Pradesh programme, the State Government has undertaken the construction of bridges, over bridges and widening of roads, etc., to ease the traffic problem. Many of them have been completed and commissioned by the State Government. But unfortunately the railways are yet to take up Zaheerabad over bridge, Sithaphal mandi over bridge in twin cities, an under bridge near Railway Nilayam in Secunderabad, Guntur-Tenali over bridge for construction. I request the Hon. Minister to release funds for speedy completion of these over bridges.

There has been considerable delay in matters related to traffic facilities, construction of workshops and location of divisions.

The successive Governments at Centre have neglected the State of Andhra Pradesh for all these long years. I hope and trust that justice would be done to the State at least now. I appeal to the Hon. Minister to allocate necessary funds for taking up new lines, and for speedy completion of those on which work is in progress. I also appeal to the Hon. Minister to make special allocations to our State in her forthcoming Budget for the year 2000-2001, so that the work already undertaken in the previous years will at least be completed in near future.

Sir, Hon. Mamata Banerjee hails from a State which is known for revolutionary zeal. She is a leader known for her revolutionary leadership. We are really fortunate to have her as a Railway Minister. I have every hope that her able leadership, the Railways would witness an unprecedented progress and the country's Railways would compete with the developed world.

Sir, Shri Bangaru Lakshman is another Minister of State in the Railways. I request him to take personal interest in getting more allocations for the State in the next budget. This would enable us to complete all the pending projects.

I conclude my speech thanking you Sir for giving me an opportunity to participate in this discussion.

Jai Hind - Jai Janmabhoomi.


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