Mamata to take charge of railway ministry in Kolkata

May 25th, 2009 - 10:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata/New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Concerned over the plight of the people of cyclone-hit West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee Monday said she will formally take charge of the railways ministry at the Eastern Railway headquarters in Kolkata Tuesday, and not in the national capital.
“I am concerned, I am very much concerned, I have to be with the people in my state at this hour,” Banerjee told reporters in the West Bengal capital after cyclone Aila left 12 people dead and a trail of devastation in her home state.

“I will formally take charge here at Eastern Railway headquarters and not at Rail Bhavan,” she said, referring to the ministry headquarters in New Delhi.

The minister is likely to hold a teleconference with railway ministry officials Tuesday. She is also expected to deploy all resources with the Railways to help the people of her state.

A South Eastern Railway spokesman said with fallen trees blocking tracks at four stations in the Kharagpur-Howrah section, several passenger trains were stranded.

Train services were also severely affected in the south Section of the Sealdah division.

The railways minister said army columns have been asked to move in to areas like Gosaba, Patharpratima and Kultali in and around the Sundarbans delta in South Parganas district, the worst-hit region.

Banerjee, who spoke to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee several times about the situation, said the situation was “very bad” in Pakhiraganj, which was under eight feet water.

She said with uprooted trees blocking roads, the army columns have been stuck at Diamond Harbour and appealed to the people to help in removing trees so that they could proceed to the affected areas.

In Delhi, a railways ministry official said Banerjee would also open a camp office at Kolkata so that she could attend to her administrative duties even while staying in the West Bengal capital.

“She wants to spend more time in the state to concentrate on the upcoming assembly election due in 2011,” the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

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