Seven years have passed since the foundation stone for the Indore-Dahod railway line was laid by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but work is yet to start at the ground level.
The million dollar question is would the railway project see the light of day after the upcoming 2015 railway budget.
Every year as the budget session approaches, the expectations of the people of Malwa-Nimar region rise. The people of the region eagerly hope that the railway ministry would have something for them to cheer about.
As per the statistics compiled by city-based NGO Vikas Mitra Drishti 2050, the rail connectivity in Nimar region is very poor. The region has a railway network of 1 km for every 131-135 sq km while the national average stands at 1 km for every 52 sq km.
The 201-km Indore-Dahod railway link is of utmost importance to this region as, once operational, it will connect the districts of south-western part of Madhya Pradesh (Dhar, Jhabua, Khargone and Barwani).
At present, these four districts remain untouched by the world’s largest railway network even after 67 years of Independence.
Nagesh Namjoshi, a member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, said, "There has been a proposal to lay the railway line between Indore and Manmad. The line can pass through the untouched regions of south-western Madhya Pradesh and run parallel to the Agra-Bombay road. Later, the governments can think of creating an industrial corridor along the line, build heavy industries and generate employment in the region."
Namjoshi is also a close aide of Indore MP and present Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
He added, "Given the socio-economic scenario of our country, the Modi government should prioritise connectivity, instead of high-speed bullet trains." He explained that 10-12 km of normal railway line can be laid at a cost of 1 km line needed for a bullet train to run.
Industries in Pithampur area are also waiting eagerly for the Indore-Dahod railway link, as it would reduce the distance between Mumbai and Indore by more than 250 km. At present, due to the lack of connectivity, freight is being transported to Ratlam by road and then to other destinations via trains.
"The industries will immensely benefit from the link. On an average, about 250-300 containers are being ferried to Ratlam every day through trucks. The figure stands at 90,000 containers every year, then imagine the revenue that can be saved by the industries," Gautam Kothari, the president of Pithampur Industrial Association, said. He blamed poor connectivity for hindering growth in the region.
Namjoshi said, "If the Indore-Dahod line is laid, the western railways can carry 3-4 racks every day from Pithampur and the revenue earned by the railways will amount to crores in a month."
He added, "There are vast tracts of barren/unproductive or less productive land in west Nimar region, so acquiring lands should not pose much of a problem for the railways."
With the rail budget just round the corner and Mahajan’s personal persuasion towards big ticket projects for Indore likely, the expectations of industries, stake holders and people are high this time.