Madurai: When a new jargon EBR (Extra Budgetary Resources) was mentioned in Railway Pink Book of 2015-16 against allocation of funds for various projects, even many railway officials did not know what it was all about.
After some clarification at various sources, the officials confirmed that it was Extra Budgetary Resources. EBR meant that the funds would not come from the usual railway budgetary allocation but through funds mobilised from outside railway sources.
Union Railway Minister did make generous funds for some of the new line, doubling and gauge conversion projects in Madurai division.
The next railway budget in 2016-17 too had mention of EBR with similar generous funding pattern. But, railway officials’ contention would be that railway projects would get funds once Life Insurance Corporation fulfilled its promise of funding Indian Railways.
“None of the projects has got any major funding under EBR till date,” said senior president of Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, S. Rethinavelu.
However, he said with the merger of Railway budget with general budget from 2017, he expected the Union Government to be more realistic in its approach in early completion of railway projects.
“All our expectations are that the Government should do away with a token allocation of funds for railway projects with an eye on vote bank. It should prioritise the projects considering the financial viability and their significance in catering to people. After prioritising, funds should be allocated so that the works are executed in a time-bound manner,” Mr. Rethinavelu said.
Many a time, the meagre allocation of funds do not even make up for the cost escalation, making the whole exercise waste.
For southern districts, he felt that the ongoing Villupuram-Dindigul doubling; Madurai-Vanji Maniyachi-Thoothukudi; Vanji Maniyachi-Nagercoil doubling; Madurai-Thoothukudi (via Aruppukottai) new line and Madurai-Bodi gauge conversion should be taken up.
“The Chennai-Tirunelveli sector brings the highest earnings in passenger fare in the entire Southern Railway. Hence, its doubling is the need of the hour to operate additional trains meeting the demands of passengers,” he added.
Similarly, the Madurai-Thoothukudi new line would give an impetus to industrial development, while Madurai-Bodi gauge conversion would help the multi-crore Neutrino project in Theni district.
Early completion of Sengottah-Punalur section as planned would pave way for more trains connecting Kerala with Chennai via Kollam and Sengottah, he said. - The Hindu