Lalu, Sonia to launch rail coach factory in Rae Bareli

January 26th, 2009 - 7:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party MP Rahul Gandhi will be in Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh Tuesday to launch a Rs.20 billion ($408 million) rail coach factory. Work on the project was stalled October following political wrangling.

Ministers of State for Railways R. Velu and Naranbhai Rathwa will also accompany them, Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh told IANS by phone from state capital Lucknow.

The factory will be located in Lalganj in Rae Bareli, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency.

The work on the factory, to come up on about 1,000 acres, was stalled in October when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati refused to transfer 189.253 acres of land under the state government ownership, citing opposition by local people.

Her announcement had come dramatically ahead of Sonia Gandhi’s visit to the site for the ground-breaking ceremony.

The decision sparked off political controversy as Mayawati also tried to stop Sonia Gandhi, who is the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), from addressing a rally there.

The Mayawati government’s decision was challenged in the Allahabad High Court but later the state relented and decided to grant the land to the railways on lease.

The lease deed for the 189.25 acres of land in Lalganj sub-district was executed Jan 17 and the Indian Railways Wednesday filed its copy along with a supplementary affidavit in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.

“The land has now been registered in the name of Northern Railway barely a couple of days ago and now there is no hurdle in the construction of the factory,” V. Madan, a Congress leader, told IANS by phone from Lucknow.

Railways officials said the project is likely to be completed in two years. Building more rail coach factories was on top of the railways ministry’s agenda this year, they said.

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