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New Delhi, Jan 17 The Government on Thursday approved the gauge conversion of the Ratlam-Mhow-Khandwa-Akola rail line. A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) cleared the decision to convert the 472.64-km metre gauge line into broad gauge at a cost of Rs 1,421.25 crore.

The route would provide for carrying foodgrains, oilcakes, cement from Nimach and Chittaurgarh area and various other products from Pithampur Special Economic Zones near Mhow to Southern States, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr P.R. Dasmunsi, said after the meeting. The broad gauge connectivity would also facilitate the movement of military personnel and equipment to and from Mhow, he said.

The Ratlam-Akola conversion would restore shorter alternative north-south route link connecting Secunderabad, Chennai with Jaipur, Ajmer, Ratlam, Indore, Khandwa, Akola and other towns in north West Rajasthan, he said.

The CCEA also approved a revision in the criteria under the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme to ensure access to education to the most deprived sections of girls. The revised scheme would cover blocks where the female literacy rate was below 30 per cent and about 94 towns and cities having female literacy rate below the national average of 53.76 per cent, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 18, 2008)
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