"Injustice to Karnataka"
"Step Motherly Treamtment"
"Center ignoring Karnataka"
This is just the tip of our frustrations on having deplorable railway infrastructure in the Karnataka state. These are the tag lines that hog headlines in the newspaper every year after Railway Budget is presented. Is there any truth in it?
It is not entirely untrue of railways ignoring state like Karnataka. So far we have not seen any leadership in 'South Western Railways' having any plans to improve other than what gets pushed through railway ministry. If approached, SWR has only excuses - Lines are saturated, Cannot add more trains. etc. But every year a number of trains are added. But when you confront them to find out what have they done in past 5-10 yrs to improve the situation, all you will get is a blank.
The reality is, Railways have become single person controlled ministry. Railway Board, Zonal General Managers, DRMs neither do anything to make railways better nor has any appetite to set any pan-India plans and achieve it. Everything from a halt station to news service needs Railway minister's blessing. We have seen this in action from spectacles of Lalu and Mamta. Instead of actual needs and rational, political considerations get patronage and what we see every year in the budget is lopsided growth of railway infrastructure in every state. But there are some states which are lucky even though they didn't had any of their own as railway ministers. Then if states are lucky to have likes of Lalu and Mamata, projects flow like river ganges at the cost of other states.
Kerala is a good example of how state needs are always kept ahead of political considerations even though Kerala didn't have their own man as railway ministry in last 2-3 decades. Still growth of railways in Kerala is phenomenal. The only reason is, Kerala MPs irrespective of their parties, leaves no stone unturned to get the projects they want. They religiously take up the issues with railway minister and in parliament. Every year, a wish list of railways project is prepared and submitted to Railway minister ahead of Budget.
Even the other states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu fares much better than Karnataka in terms of track length and density. Even with heavily politicized railway ministry other states have been able to improve while our state Karnataka still lags.
What is the reason for such abysmal state of railways in Karnataka?
The answer for that question has 3 parts to it. One, we, citizens and people of Karnataka have to take an equal blame for not bothering to demand railway infrastructure. Two, the state politicians - MLAs, MPs hardly show any interest in railways. The last player in this, Railways irrational way of implementing projects is athird biggest reason. The SWR's total neglect adds to the injury.
The callousness of state MLAs and MPs has reached the heights in present day. A cursory look at the questions asked by state MPs in parliament on railways is enough to demonstrate how much our state MPs care for railways in teh state. Look at the interest shown by our MPs as recent as few days back. Only 2 MPs find it important to attend a meeting called by Railway Minister Shri. Suresh Prabhu to discuss state's needs. What can be more important than responding to meeting called by union ministry. Certainly this exposes the interest of state politicians in pursuing projects that benefit the state. With such disdain from our MPs, we the people have no right to complain about Railways or Center for poor railway foot print in the state.
Dear MLAs, MPs, why is such disdain for not pursuing railway projects in the state?
Here is a small list of our disinterest and callousness for not actively pursuing with railways.
- We have Railway Tracks, between Kolar - Chikballapur - Yelahanka (total of 100 kms), but we have only one train service per day on this route.
- Harihar - Kottur has been given a gauge conversion - Only one train/day.
- Bangalore - Hassan direct rail line still limping even though some 40 / 50 Kms have been completed and Railways is not willing to open for Train Traffic on completed sections.
- Hassan - Mangalore Railway Track - Only 1.5 Trains running per day and passengers are paying thru nose for bus fares
- Chitradurga has very well connected by Train but we do not have even single Express or Passenger Trains from this Dist Hq.
- Dandeli has Broad Gauge Railway Track since 1996 but still lacks a single train on this route.
- Chamarajanagar has well developed railway facilities but no trains to other part of Karnataka.
- Bijapur - Bagalkot - Gadag - Hospet - Bellary - Chitradurga do not have Train facility till now.
- Hubli Division and Mysore Division does not have DEMU type trains for running suburban Rail services.
- Bangalore still Struggling for Suburban Rail Project since 28 years.
What more we need to say, enough is enough. With growing population and limited land surface, railways is the key for sustainable growth in the state. If our MLAs and MPs continue on same path showing utter contempt for railways, we are not far off to see the state in the list of most poor growth and developed states in India.