By P.T. Bopanna
There is reason to believe that Simha, the Lok Sabha member for Mysuru and Kodagu, has enlisted the support of railway minister Piyush Goyal to perpetuate the fraud to help the BJP prospects in the election.
In December, the Union Minister of State for railways Rajen Gohain had told Parliament that the Mysuru-Kushalanagar-Madikeri line project had been dropped as the line will not fetch any revenue to the railways.
Gohain had told the Lok Sabha in a written reply: “the survey for Mysuru (Belagola)-Kushalanagar-Madikeri (119.10 km) new line was completed during 2018-19. The total cost of the proposed new line was assessed at Rs. 2,607.53 crore with rate of return of (minus) 5.65 per cent. The survey report has been examined and this proposal could not be taken forward due to un-remunerative nature and no operational and financial justification of the proposed new line.”
Within two months of the project being shelved for not being remunerative, how can it be approved now?
Simha tweeted a couple of days ago thanking railway minister Piyush Goyal: “New Railway Line between Mysuru and Kushalnagar(87 Kms) APPROVED! Total cost 1854 crores.”
The BJP MP has been making a spate of announcements in the past few weeks involving railway projects running into thousands of crores in his constituency. This gives room for suspicion that the sanctions have been given by short-circuiting the various procedures to gain electoral advantage.
What adds to the suspicion is the fact that even before the railway could formally announce the sanction of the railway line to Kodagu, the announcement was tweeted by Simha!
It is no secret that the project has been pursued by Simha to woo the vote banks in the Hunsur-Periyapatna belt in his constituency. Simha had held several rounds of discussion with railway minister Piyush Goyal to push the project.
The project has faced lot of criticism from environmentalists who have expressed concern that the rail route passing through Kodagu district may have an impact on the flora and fauna. The situation has worsened after last year’s landslides in Kodagu, close to the proposed railway line.