Mamata takes charge, announces Rs.20 monthly passes (Second Lead)

May 26th, 2009 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, May 26 (IANS) Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, who broke convention Tuesday to take charge of her portfolio here instead of the national capital, said people earning below Rs.500 per month will be given monthly railway passes at Rs.20.
“For the poor, we are announcing special monthly railway passes. The railways wants to give them the economic freedom to travel by rail, especially those in the unorganised sector who have to come every day from their villages to the city,” Banerjee said.

The Rs 20 monthly passes will allow passengers to travel up to 100 km on any day.

She added that the speedy completion of the eastern freight corridor was high on her agenda.

“The eastern freight corridor between Kolkata and Ludhiana is very important and will be completed very soon,” said Banerjee, adding: “It’s very important for the development of four states - West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.”

Also, the Bihar-Howrah express train, which was renamed as Kandari Express, will be made a daily train.

“It will be made a daily train very soon as it connects Digha, an important tourist destination. Some new block stations will have to be made and once they are completed the train will be running daily,” Banerjee said.

She took charge of the ministry at the B.C. Roy Institute at Sealdah station. Accompanying her were officials of South Eastern Railway, Eastern Railway and Kolkata Metro Railway, workers union representatives and several newly elected MPs.

Railway Board chairman S.S. Khurana was also present.

Banerjee said a lot of infrastructure projects would be taken up in the next five-year term and stations would be modernised.

“We will take up modernisation of lot of stations in West Bengal and will also give attention to employment generation,” said the minister.

“Railways is the lifeline of the nation. We have to ensure passenger facility and safety alongside the commercial interest of the railways as an industry.”

Also, special attention would be given to Jammu and Kashmir and the development of railways network in the state.

“Though I am from Bengal, nobody should think that I am not interested in the development of other parts of India,” she said.

Seeking the support of railway employees, Banerjee said: “I consider the railways as a big family and I expect full co-operation from the employees and I am sure they will rise to the occasion and make Indian Railways a hit in the world.”

A large number of supporters, assembled at the station, greeted the minister with slogans like “Mamata Banerjee zindabaad” as she gave a broad outline of her plans for the state.

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