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Dungarpur villagers obstruct gauge conversion, demand under-bridge

Udaipur : The track laying work under the Udaipur-Ahmedabad gauge conversion project remained obstructed at Behna gram panchayat in Dungarpur district for the second consecutive day on Friday as hundreds of villagers staged protest and raised slogans against the Railway. Villagers are adamant that they will not let the railway lay the broad gauge line  which they claim, is being laid through their fields impeding them from agriculture work that being the only source of their livelihood. They demanded an underbridge to be made so that people have no problems in commutation and for taking cattles for grazing. Meanwhile railway authorities said these grievances all already in consideration and a solution would be found soon. . “ The villagers had approached us few days back and the problem is being addressed which will take some time. We have received a recommendation from the collector to make an under bridge and we are examining it which would take some time as it has to be determined whether the budget would be spent by the railway or the state government” Punit Chawla, Divisional Railway Manager, Ajmer said.

The Ministry for Railways had approved permanent closure of Ahmedabad-Himmatnagar meter gauge sections for gauge conversion and the last meter gauge trains had run on December 30 between Udaipur and Ahmedabad. The dismantling of the current meter gauge track, laying and linking of broad gauge main lines, loop lines, sidings including points and crossings, spreading of ballast, tampering of track and other ancillary works at Jaisamand road, Semari and Rishabdeo road yards in Udaipur-Dungarpur section is ongoing. According to the villagers the settlement is at one side while the fields are on the other side some 1.5 kms from their homes. The only pathway leading to the fields have been taken away by the railway to lay the new tracks thus leaving the poor peasants with no way to commute. The lines would also create a divide between the fields and the only well further inconvenience in irrigating the crops. The villagers drove away the vehicles transporting the construction material to the site. Sarpanch Salma Damor, Govind Damor, Upsarpanch Bhagwan Patel, Premji Patel and  many others staged a dharna at the spot. The villagers also complained of not having awarded compensation by the railway.

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