Trivandrum: Indian Railways is looking to introduce many new trains and increase frequency of existing trains, considering the huge rush and flow of passengers from various stations in Kerala to neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Also there has been recent requests for stoppage of all major trains, including Rajdhani and Jan Shatabdi at Mahe, which is a part of Pondicherry, but is located within the territory of Kerala, and this may be accepted soon.
There was a huge hue and cry in Kerala after the recent railway budget in which not even a single new train was allocated to Kerala. But railways has reversed this decision considering the recent unprecedented hike in the volumes of passengers from the state to its neighbours and back, following the implementation of total prohibition by the Congress led UDF government in the state.
Since the decision to close down all the bars in the state has been taken, Kerala which has one of the highest per-capita consumption of hard liquor in the state, has seen people moving neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to have their daily quota. Southern Railway officials has informed that with the present number of trains, they are unable to handle the rush at any cost. They have no option but to increase the number of trains.
The decision of the railways was welcomed by all leaders across political parties, most tumbling upon each other to take credit for this.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said – “This shows that our decision to implement prohibition is a great success. It has paved way for the railway development in the state, which was long overdue.”
CPIM and other Left Front allies too supported the decision. CPIM State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told our correspondent that his party would soon be conducting a state wide hartal to celebrate the success and make sure that the message reaches all the people.
BJP leaders in the state were also elated that Kerala has decided to follow the Gujarat Model, at least in implementing total prohibition, and this is the only reason that has brought more trains to the state.
Meanwhile it is understood that the alliance partner of the Congress, the Muslim League, has started to put pressure on Oommen Chandy to get the new trains painted in green, as they believe it is their party’s policy of banning liquor that has brought this sudden change in the railway map of the state.
In a related news, it is reliably learnt that the government is planning to approve at least one airport in each of the fourteen districts of the state, as they feel that soon railways might not be able to take the load of passengers. Kerala already has three airports at Kochi, Calicut and Trivandrum, and a new one is under construction at Kannur.
Also, the almost-defunct Kingfisher Airlines is looking at this opportunity and planning to relocate their grounded airplanes to Kerala, to try and implement the “Sky-Bar” project, which looks to take advantage of the loopholes in the prohibition law and sell liquor in the sky in-flight. An internal analysis by the airline management says that this may be the one and only way they can come back to profitability.
Author’s Twitter handle: @nidheeshn