We are happy with railway budget: Achuthanandan

February 26th, 2008 - 8:05 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 26 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, the main opposition Congress and the people in the state Tuesday welcomed the railway budget Lalu Prasad presented in the Lok Sabha Tuesday as it showered many sops on the state. Railway Minister Lalu Prasad gave in to one of Kerala’s long-standing demands for a railway coach factory in the state, announced four new trains, extended one from Coiambatore to Ernakulam and increased the frequency of the Rajdhani train from twice to thrice a week.

“I have seen it on TV and certainly I am happy because our demands have been met. We had met the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) and the railway minister ahead of the budget and it has paid off,” Achuthanandan said in Delhi.

He said his government had committed to provide free land to the railway ministry to set up the coach factory.

The factory is expected to come up in Kanjikode in Pudussery panchyat of Palakkad district, north Kerala, where the state government has promised to provide 1,000 acres of land free of cost. The project is expected to provide direct employment to 4,000 people.

“We welcome the project wholeheartedly. It will help an industrial boom in this area,” K. Suresh, Pudussery panchayat president, told IANS.

“The coach factory won’t face any problems in land acquisition. About 300 acres of land, which remains unused with the public sector Instrumentation Limited, could be used for the coach factory,” Suresh said, adding: “Land acquisition will not face any problem here as the area is not a thickly populated one.”

The Malabar Chamber of Commerce also welcomed the announcement.

“The factory will give new impetus to industrialization of Malabar area (north Kerala) as ancillary units will come up here. However, there are certain disappointments for us as the budget failed to meet our demand on electrification of the railway line from Shorannur to Managlore,” said Malabar Chamber of Commerce president P. Zakir.

Senior Congress legislator Sivadasan Nair said he was happy that Railway Minister Lalu Prasad had done justice to Kerala.

Passengers at the Kochi railway station cheered the budget proposal to reduce fares.

“At a time when prices are rising, a reduction of the fares is really commendable. We are told there is going to be sops for students. This is nice,” said a passenger.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister of state for railway O. Rajagopal said: “The state should be vigilant that the promise made in the budget is materialised. Twenty-five years ago (late prime minister) Indira Gandhi had promised a coach factory in Kerala. The land was also acquired for the project but it never materialized as the factory was later shifted to Kapurthala in Punjab.”

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