Activists of Nagapattinam district have urged the Railway Ministry to take steps to revive the Mayiladuthurai-Tranquebar rail link and allocate adequate funds for the project in the forthcoming budget.
If revived, they contend, the rail link will provide connectivity to important tourist destinations and give a big push to the economic development of the delta region.
In a memorandum to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Arupathy P. Kalyanam, organiser, Mayiladuthurai-Tranquebar Train Restoration Committee, said the rail link served the people residing in the tail-end of the Cauvery delta for more than 60 years — from 1926 until it was closed in 1987. The 30-km section needs to be revived.
In fact, the Railway Ministry ordered a survey in 2005-06 to explore the feasibility of extending the line to Karaikal via Thirunallar for a total length of 47.3 km. Owing to delay in sanctioning the project, a reassessment was done in 2010-11 and the cost increased to Rs. 175 crore, he said.
The section will provide a circular rail route covering the Cauvery delta linking Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Mayiladuthurai, Tranquebar, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, and Tiruvarur and will be remunerative for the Railways too. “The historical, heritage tourism and pilgrimage project proposal on Mayiladuthurai-Thirukadaiyur-Tranquebar-Thirunallar-Karaikal section is awaiting sanction since 2011,” he rued.
The project is in the recommended list of the State government too. If implemented it will connect major Hindu,Muslim and Christian pilgrimage centres and usher in development in the region.
Off the four old routes constructed during the British period in the region, the Mayiladuthurai-Tranquebar section is the only route neglected by the Railways, and the other three sections have been taken up for development. “The project will entail only restoration and gauge conversion and should be taken up on a priority basis considering its heritage, historic and tourism value,” Mr. Kalyanam said.