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Despite opposition, SWR firm on doubling of track at Vasco

VASCO: General manager of South Western Railway (SWR) Ajay Kumar Singh on Sunday said that the SWR will stand by the decision taken by the central and the state governments to go ahead with the doubling of railway track from the Hubbali section to the Vasco railway station.

He said that if required, the project can also be completed by constructing a tunnel through sea, if it remains the last option for completing the much-needed project.

He was speaking to the media after Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha opposed the doubling of tracks. Saldanha alleged that the doubling of tracks, which pass through several villages in Cortalim, would lead to destruction of environment and houses, rendering people homeless.

Earlier, Singh inaugurated a 100 feet tall flag-post, which has been installed opposite the Vasco railway station building at Subrai Joshi Chowk. The flag-post was inaugurated in the presence of divisional railway manager (Hubbali division), SWR, Arvind Malkhede and other officials of SWR.

Singh said that the visit conducted from the Hubbali section to the Vasco railway station was a routine annual inspection, covering several railway stations in order to check whether the railways, bridges and tracks are safe. “It was a technical inspection wherein we stopped at ten railway stations between Hubbali section and Vasco railway station, the major stations being Tinai Ghat, Alnavar, Collem, Sanvordem and others,” said Singh.

He said that Saldanha has raised politically-sensitive issues. “We are technical people and we are working on doubling of railway tracks based on the directions issued by government of India and government of Goa. It is the government who can decide on the project,” said Singh and added that Railways was not short of business, as Railways has been operating for the last over 100 years in India. 

“We are welcome in other states to withdraw the doubling of tracks project proposed in Goa and shift the same to some other place,” he said. “With regard to the doubling of tracks project, we can listen to the government and the Chief Minister and not other persons. We can also consider other options like constructing a tunnel to complete the ambitious project,” Singh said.

He said that the issue related to the destruction of environment and axe falling on houses for alignment of the doubling of tracks project, as raised by Saldanha, is not an emotional one. “In Bengaluru, thousands of houses have been razed to the ground. Even the houses which existed for hundreds of years in several parts of the country have been razed down. We are not capturing land like the invaders Mughals, Portuguese and British did. Railways does not have an army force for capturing the lands of the people. If the local administration agrees and if the local government agrees, then we work,” said Singh.

Meanwhile, Saldanha stood firm on her stand to oppose the project and indicated her opposition to it during Singh’s visit to the Vasco railway station.

“Issue that is plaguing the people of South Goa and particularly Cortalim constituency is the fate awaiting their houses, which have been existing since the last several decades. I can say this based on facts. I got the SWR officials about a year ago to measure and find out exactly where the second set of railway tracks will be placed. As per the officials of SWR, the second track will be placed almost near the steps of the existing houses. Therefore, I have come here today to ask the general manager of SWR to have a site inspection so that he can know for himself why the people are so upset,” said Saldanha.

She said with the doubling of tracks, more trains will run on the tracks with greater speed and more vibration. “How will the people live in an environment of noise pollution, which is the cause of many ailments? What about the freedom of movement?” she questioned.

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