Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Feb. 7

THE Manoharabad-Nizamabad metre gauge railway line started 74 years ago during the Nizam rule has come of age and evolved into a lifeline for this part of the Telangana region. On Monday, the 120-km stretch was converted into broad gauge.

"It will be the backbone of Telangana," Mr Rajiv Puri, President of Nizamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Business Line.

Taken up under the `Project Unigauge' plan of the Indian Railways, the Manoharabad-Nizamabad stretch was part of the gauge conversion between Secunderabad and Manmad, covering a length of 620 km.

The Minister of State for Railways, Mr R. Velu, inaugurated the newly converted line on Monday. He also flagged off the first passenger train on the line.

The conversion would mean a lot to the farmers and businessmen in the region, known for its strengths in maize, turmeric, paddy, sunflower and soya.

"Transportation costs will be cut by 50 per cent," Mr P.R. Somani, founder of the chamber, said.

"Say, we will be paying Rs 80 for every 100 kg we transport as against Rs 180 we spend on transporting goods through trucks," he said.

He believed that the new line would significantly change the business landscape of the region.

"We will be spending less time travelling to places such as Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Patna, Tirupati and Bangalore," he said.

Mr Puri said better connectivity would not only help farmers and traders add value but also result in employment generation.

Mr Somani said this would pave for the setting up of new agri-based industries. "For South Central Railways, it would prove to be a maximum revenue generator," he said.

The total outlay for Mudkhed-Secunderabad conversion works was put at Rs 282 crore. The Manoharabad-Nizamabad stretch was the last link in the project.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 8, 2005)
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