Northeast ignored in rail budget: Tripura minister

February 27th, 2011 - 12:59 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Agartala, Feb 26 (IANS) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee ignored the northeast in the rail Budget and focussed only on her home state West Bengal, a minister in Tripura’s Left Front government said Saturday.”Like previous years, the infrastructure and industry-starved northeastern region was again ingnored in the railway budget for fiscal 2011-12,” state Transport Minister Manik Dey said.

“People of Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam had long been struggling for conversion of the meter gauge track into the broad gauge beyond Lumding in southern Assam. If Lumding-Badarpur section is not converted, the railway track upto Agartala and also in Manipur and Mizoram cannot be converted to broad gauge,” Dey told reporters.

The minister said that the gauge conversion work had started in 1996 beyond Lumding and Prime Minister Manmohan singh had declared it as a national project many years back, but in 15 years, 30 percent of the work is yet to be completed.

“The prime ministers of India and Bangladesh had signed an agreement in January last year for linking Agartala railway station with the Akhaurah railway station in Bangladesh by setting only 13-km new railway track so that a train could be introduced from Agartala to Kolkata via Bangladesh, but there is no mention of it in the railway budget,” Dey said.

Tripura capital Agartala is the newest station of the Indian Railways, and came up on the country’s rail map in October 2008.

Bangladesh operates regular train services along the border on its side up to Akhaurah and various other places, just opposite several sub-divisional towns in Tripura.

The minister alleged that the hopes and aspirations of the people of the landlocked northeast, were ignored by the railway minister.

“The railway budget was entirely West Bengal-centric, keeping an eye on the forthcoming assembly elections,” he said.

He said that the budget also did not spell out anything on the implementation of the five national railway projects in the northeast, the work on which was being carried out very slowly due to paucity of funds and other problems.

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