Bengal reap a rich harvest from Mamata’s rail budgetFebruary 24th, 2010 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Feb 24 (IANS) Using the railway budget yet again to raise her stock among the voters ahead of West Bengal assembly polls next year, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday showered her state with largesse, targeting almost every part of the state and virtually all spheres of life.
The state got six of the nine new rail line proposals, five of the 25 projects for doubling of lines besides three of the 10 new Duronto trains, in addition to a large number of expresses, and suburban and non-suburban trains.
Twenty-five of the state’s railway stations figured among the list of 94 set to be made Adarsha stations, while Kharagpur and Bolpur figure among the 10 world class stations proposed in the budget.
Besides, the state has got two out of six Matribhoomi specials for women, one of three Karmabhoomi trains, besides being associated with half a dozen of the 16 Bharat Tirth trains that would promote tourism.
This was in addition to a large number of expresses, suburban and non-suburban trains that Banerjee announced for her state.
The budget also announced massive extension projects for the Kolkata Metro Railway, which would now touch the southern outskirts of the city at Joka, and the central business hub of B.B.D. Bag, besides the upcoming northeastern township of Rajarhat.
In an effort to increase the use of jute, the main cash crop of West Bengal, Banerjee declared that the railways will explore the possibility of using jute geo-textiles wherever the soil formation of the tracks was unstable and weak.
Banerjee was dubbed anti-industry after her party Trinamool Congress spearheaded agitations that forced Tata Motors to shift the Nano project out of the state and the state government to scrap a chemical hub industry in Nandigram.
However, since taking over the reins of the railway ministry last year, she has been trying hard to project herself as pro-industry and pro-development by announcing a slew of economic initiatives, and showcase them as a contrast to what she calls the ‘non-performance’ of the 33-year-old Left Front government.
Wednesday’s budget was no exception.
The budget proposals included a Diesel Multiple Unit factory at Sankrail, a high axle load wagon workshop at Dankuni and a coach factory proposal for Singur.
Two of the five wagon factories mentioned in the budget are slated to come up at Burdwan and Haldia, while Kharagpur railway workshop gets a centre of excellence in wagon prototyping. Mal and Farakka are the sites of proposed water bottling plants, while 22 of the 93 multi-functional complexes are located in the state.
The budget also promised modernisation and augmentation of the capacity of the Chittaranajn locomotive Works from its present level of 200 locomotives to 275.
With unemployment being a major issue in the state, Banerjee’s budget unveiled an advanced railway track training centre at Beleghata for training of gangmen and gatemen, an advanced loco pilot training centre at Kharagpur and multi-disciplinary training centres at north Bengal’s Coochbehar and Malda to increase the employability of the youth.
Health is another area where the Left Front government has repeatedly drawn flak from the opposition, and Banerjee utilised her budget to provide the maximum number of outpatient departments (OPD) and diagnostic centres, secondary-level general speciality Hospitals and Tertiary-level Multi-speciality Hospitals to the state. For example, about 40 percent of the tertiary hospitals would be located in West Bengal.
The state got one of the five sports academies promised in the budget, with Banerjee also promising a Rabindra Museum at Howrah and a Gitanjali Museum at Bolpur to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, culturally rich Bengal’s greatest literary figure.
A cultural complex named after Sambhu Mitra, another doyen of Bengali theatre, will be set up at Howrah to promote performing arts and a music academy, the budget said.
Kolkata, besides Delhi, would also get two double-decker trains as a pilot project.
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Tags: assembly polls, business hub, extension projects, geo textiles, kharagpur, mamata banerjee, metro railway, nandigram, nano project, railway budget, railway minister, railway stations, rajarhat, rich harvest, soil formation, southern outskirts, suburban trains, tata motors, trinamool congress, west bengal