Sonia Gandhi launches rail coach factory in Rae Bareli (Lead)

January 27th, 2009 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiRae Bareli, Jan 27 (IANS) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday launched a Rs.20 billion ($408 million) rail coach factory in her parliamentary constituency, Rae Bareli. “The rail coach factory will serve the nation’s biggest need - creating jobs. As many as 8,000 to 10,000 youths across the country will get jobs once the factory comes up,” said Gandhi, who earlier arrived in Rae Bareli to launch the rail coach factory that will come up in Lalganj area.

The upcoming factory will have state-of-art infrastructure that will be at par with any other rail coach factory in the world, she added.

According to officials, the rail coach factory that was jointly launched by Gandhi, Congress party MP Rahul Gandhi and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad will produce nearly 840 rail coaches annually.

In her address at the inauguration ceremony at Lalganj, Gandhi assured that all measures would be taken to counter environmental pollution due to the establishment of industrial units.

“I am aware that environmental pollution is related with functioning of any industrial unit. Taking this into account, I assure that the upcoming factory will pose no pollution threat to the district,” she said.

The Congress party chief also claimed that no government has initiated as many developmental projects, and welfare schemes as undertaken by the UPA government.

“In various domains, particularly education and health, UPA has undertaken several schemes for benefiting the masses,” said Gandhi, adding: “As development is a never ending process our government will continue to take several projects for the all-round development of the country.”

Speaking on the occasion, Lalu Prasad accused the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of “plotting” to privatise the railways.

“The NDA government had formed the Rakesh Mohan Committee that claimed that the railways cannot be improved for the next 30 years and hence should be privatised. However, our government has transformed the Indian Railways and made it profitable,” he said.

He also criticised those opposing the establishment of the rail coach factory in Rae Bareli.

“Those who are against the factory should realise that it will generate huge employment opportunities not only for the people of Rae Bareli but for technical and other experts from across the state,” Lalu Prasad said.

In his address, Rahul Gandhi said that the factory will transform the entire region.

“Take the example of Kapurthala in Punjab. Hundreds have got jobs there and this factory will be only the third of its kind in the country,” he said.

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 Gandhi 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 on Jan 17 and the Indian Railways Wednesday filed its copy along with a supplementary affidavit in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.

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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