The issue of getting Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) its original jurisdiction, up to Mangaluru Junction (Kankanady), gained momentum after the High Court of Karnataka recently ordered issue of notices to the Union government and others in a public interest writ petition.
A Division Bench comprising Raghavendra Chauhan and K.S. Dinesh Kumar passed the order in a review petition filed by Rajeev Gaonkar of Kumta and Hanumanth Kamath of Mangaluru, according to petitioners’ advocate R.G. Kolle. The petitioners have sought to revive an earlier writ petition which was disposed of by the court in 2014 on technical grounds.
While KRCL was created and its jurisdiction was fixed by Parliament, the Railway Board, without any authority of law or parliamentary nod or the approval of the Union Cabinet, unilaterally decided to exclude the 24-km line between Thokur and Mangaluru from its jurisdiction and bring it under Southern Railway’s jurisdiction, the petitioners said. Terming it fraud played on investors of KRCL bonds, the petitioners sought the court’s direction to restore KRCL’s original jurisdiction. The copies of the notice issued by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka were sent to Railway Board, PMO, Public Sector Enterprises Board, NITI Aayog and Konkan Railway.
The Railway Board’s decision to exclude the 24-km has severely affected KRCL’s financial health, which has been incurring huge losses every year. New Mangalore Port (NMP), a huge revenue generating centre, falls within the excluded portion, from which the Southern Railway is getting huge income at present. Had NMP been under KRCL, the corporation would have repaid all its debts and been in a healthy position to provide a host of passenger amenities, they said. The petitioners pointed out that during the November 16, 1993 public issue of KRCL bonds, the Railway Ministry had clearly stated that KRCL would build and operate a 760-km broadgauge line between Roha (excluding) in Maharashtra and Kankanady (including) in Karnataka.
Earlier, the Railway Board had said that KRCL’s jurisdiction would end near Mangaluru Central Railway Station and in 1993, it had stated that KRCL would built and operate the Mangaluru bypass line, from Netravathi Cabin to Kankanady. Participating State governments and the general public believed in these statements, they said.
Things being so, the Railway Board unilaterally on December 20, 1995 excluded the 24-km stretch from Thokur to Kankanady from KRCL’s jurisdiction and brought it under Southern Railway. Ever since the commissioning of the line in January 1998, the corporation is incurring losses.
The petitioners sought directions to bring the 24-km of excluded line under KRCL, make Mangaluru the corporation’s headquarters and reimburse KRCL Rs. 4,000 crore that it lost to Southern Railway all these years.