Lalu, Sonia to visit Rae Bareli coach factory next week (Lead)

January 23rd, 2009 - 12:52 am ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) With hurdles in setting up a rail coach factory in Rae Bareli finally removed, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul will visit the Uttar Pradesh town next Tuesday to launch the Rs.20 billion ($408 million) project in the party chief’s constituency.”As the obstacles for the proposed rail coach factory have been cleared, Sonia Gandhi along with Rahul and the railway minister will visit the place to restart the work Jan 27,” a highly placed railway ministry source told IANS.

Minister of State for Railway R. Velu will also accompany them, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We have received an intimation in this regard from our Delhi office,” Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh told IANS on phone from Lucknow.

The work on the rail coach factory, to come up on about 1,000 acres, was stalled October last year 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 came just before Sonia Gandhi was to visit the site for the ground-breaking ceremony.

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

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 railways barely a couple of days ago and now there is no hurdle in the construction of the factory,” V. Madan, a senior party leader, said.

“With this, the work on the project can start. It is likely to be completed in two years,” said the railway source, adding building more rail coach factories was on top of the ministry’s agenda this year.

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