Mamata’s railway measures to boost West Bengal economy

February 25th, 2011 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Feb 25 (IANS) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is the largest opposition in West Bengal, Friday proposed in her railway budget a slew of new initiatives to boost the industry and employment in the poll-bound state.She announced a metro railway coach factory in Hooghly district’s Singur - the rural area from where Tata Motors originally planned to roll out the small car Nano, on-track machine production units in Howrah district’s Uluberia, and a railway industrial park in East Midnpaore district’s Jellingham near Nandigram.

Singur, the cradle of Banerjee’s anti-land acquisition stir which saw her party’s popularity graph soaring and the automobile giant shifting out to Gujarat, has seen much political jostling between the Trinamool and the ruling Left Front over setting up of an industrial unit to compensate for the loss of the Nano project.

Banerjee said though she had made an announcement to set up a coach factory at Singur, land has not been made available to the railways by the state government.

“However, several landowners have volunteered to sell their land directly to the railways. In order to fulfill this commitment, I propose to set up a metro coach factory on the land purchased from willing sellers at Singur and adjacent Polba,” she said in her budget speech.

Banerjee also proposed to pursue a joint venture between the railways and a partner to set up a manufacturing industry for indigenous production of large on-track machines at Uluberia.

The minister also announced a ‘Rail Industrial Park’ at Jellingham, 16 km downstream of Haldia in East Midnapore district.

She said the proposed park would be a cluster of diverse industrial units whose output would be used for the railways. The park will initially focus on high volume safety and vital components.

Banerjee said setting up of a large number of rail-based factories and manufacturing projects were at different stages of progress and implementation.

The works at New Jalpaiguri, Adra and Kulti have been taken up in collaboration with various PSUs. “The country will make a beginning towards creating a global hub in India for the railway industry,” she said.

She also proposed to set up a rail industry park at Nandigram in East Midnapore district and a multi-disciplinary training centre in Kurseong and also open a centre of excellence in software at Darjeeling under the aegis of Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).

“Singur and Darjeeling are politically disturbed places. Mamata Banerjee proposes to set up factories there. If the factories come up in those areas, then it will be really good,” said Bipul Malakar, professor of economics at Jadavpur University.

Stating that Uluberia was already in the industrial map, he said: “I hail Banerjee’s proposal to build a multi-disciplinary training centre in Kurseong as it is a industrially backward place. The people in Kurseong and Darjeeling are very frustrated as there is no source of employment except tourism.”

“Railway investment in those areas will create forward and backward linkages through which employment will be generated,” he added.

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