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Blog Entry# 4211837
Posted: Jan 30 (02:10)

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Jan 30 (02:10)   Through Konkan Railway, George Fernandes empowered coastal Karnataka

Jayashree ❖ Amita*^   43528 news posts
Entry# 4211837   News Entry# 375160         Tags   Past Edits
If a 48-hour journey between Mangaluru and Mumbai by road-cum-rail with a distance of nearly 1,200 km was reduced to just about 15 hours and 850 km, it was solely because of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. formed by a determined George Fernandes.
On his first day of assuming office as Railway Minister in the V.P. Singh government in 1989, Mr. Fernandes reportedly told the officials: “I have two projects in mind — Bagaha-Chittauni in Bihar and the Konkan Railway.”
Though entrepreneurs of coastal Karnataka had opened shops in Mumbai since the beginning of
the century, travel between the Karnataka coast and Mumbai was never easy. “Till about 1980, we had to travel by KSRTC buses to Kadur in Chikkamagaluru district to get a train to Mumbai,” recalled social and transport activist G. Hanumanth Kamath. After 1980’s, direct bus services started that took 24-28 hours for a distance of nearly 1,000 km. The travel time got reduced to about 18 hours with the widening of the Khandala Ghat. It was Konkan Railway that did the miracle in 1998 by drastically reducing the travel time below 18 hours as well the travel cost, Mr. Kamath said.
Railway officials said Mr. Fernandes worked hard to realise his commitment and formed a government corporation with Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala as stakeholders when it was found that Railways did not have enough money. The blueprint was ready when the Railway Budget 1990 was presented in February and the corporation was established on July 19, 1990. Railway Board’s engineering member E. Sridharan, who retired in June 1990, was appointed KRCL’s Chairman and Managing Director and entrusted the task of building a 760-km new track taming the mighty Sahyadris. The project was accomplished with nearly 2,000 bridges and 92 tunnels on the mountainous terrain and is acknowledged as the most difficult Railway undertaking of the century, at lest in India. The first train operated on January 26, 1998.
To commemorate Mr. Fernandes, KRCL has opened the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology at Madgaon in Goa.

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