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Monday, Jul 17, 2006

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Logistics - Railways
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States - Andhra Pradesh
Kakinada seeks rail connectivity

Ch. R. S. Sharma

The port town of Kakinada has grown in importance in recent times with the construction of a deepwater port, the discovery of huge reserves of gas in the Krishna-Godavari basin nearby, and the plans of the Andhra Pradesh Government to set up a port-based special economic zone. The State Government has also long-term plans to develop Kakinada-Visakhapatnam as a major industrial corridor.

All this augurs well for the town, the district headquarters of East Godavari, but there is one long-pending project, hanging fire since Independence, which the governments seem averse to taking up. People have been demanding that the town be brought onto the main rail line, on the Vijayawada-Vizag section, by connecting it with Pithapuram. The nearest railhead now is Samalkot junction, 15 km from Kakinada town. Bringing Kakinada on the main rail line would facilitate faster movement of people and goods.

Mr S. S. Krishnaji, president, AP Passengers' Association, who has been fighting for the cause for more than five decades, says: "... Kakinada should be brought on main line. That is the pre-condition for the faster growth of the town and the area. The future growth of the two ports — the new deepwater port as well as the old anchorage port — hinges on it. It brooks no further delay. But unfortunately the Government is unmoved."

Mr Krishnaji argues that, "in fact, the project to link Kakinada-Pithapuram should have been taken up first and then the revival of the Kakinada-Kotipalli rail line. But due to political pressures the Kotipalli project was taken up first and now it is found to be uneconomical to run trains on the stretch. It is a case of putting the cart before the horse."

Mr M. Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Defence, representing the Kakinada Lok Sabha constituency, says: "We in the Government are aware of the long-felt wish of the people of Kakinada. The project has been referred to the Planning Commission. I have taken up the issue with Mr Lalu Prasad, the Railway Minister."

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