CHIEF Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, led a protest of LDF MPs from Kerala in front of the Rail Bhavan in Delhi demanding the intervention of the prime minister in building a Rail Coach Factory at Kanjikkode in Palakkad district. Earlier, the railway ministry decided to backtrack from Kanjikkode coach factory, which was announced in the 2008 railway budget. The present NDA government is following the same negligence towards Kerala as the previous UPA government was pursuing, said the chief minister.
The railway ministry has decided to scrap the proposed Rs 550 crore coach factory. It reflected the violation of the federal spirit of the constitution, said Pinarayi Vijayan.
M B Rajesh, Palakkad MP said the project had been promised by Indira Gandhi in 1982. It was formally announced in the 2008 railway budget, along with a coach factory in Rae Bareilly. In 2012, the state handed over 240 acres to the railways.
Debunking the claims of the railway ministry that there were no takers for the project, Vijayan said, “We spoke to the Steel Authority of India Limited, and they are ready to take it up. But it seems the union government has made up its mind against it.”
The chief minister had recently received a letter from railway minister Piyush Goyal, stating that at present the required number of main line rail coaches could be met by augmenting the existing production capacity. However, according to a news report in The Hindu, even as Goyal dropped the Palakkad factory proposal, he had recently written to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath seeking land to set up another coach factory in the state. The ministry also plans to set up one at Sonepat in Haryana.
“We are not against the setting up of coach factories in any state. But you cannot drop a project for which even the foundation stone has been laid. This is discriminatory against Kerala,” M B Rajesh added.