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

January 27th, 2009 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiRae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh), Jan 27 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Tuesday launched the country’s third rail coach factory here at a cost of Rs.20 billion ($408 million), promising jobs to at least 8,000 people. “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 at a ceremony in Lalgunj in her parliamentary constituency, Rae Bareli.

The 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 project is likely to be completed in two years and the factory will produce 840 rail coaches annually.

The Congress chief also said no government had initiated as many developmental projects and welfare schemes as undertaken by the United Progressive Alliance (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.”

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

Targetting Mayawati, Lalu Prasad said: “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.”

He also accused the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of “plotting” to privatise the railways.

“The NDA government had formed the Rakesh Mohan Committee that said 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 said an apprenticeship institute will be opened here to train people in the railways sector.

“Once the apprenticeship institute comes up, Uttar Pradesh youths will not have to move to Bombay and other places outside the state in search of jobs,” said Lalu Prasad.

Praising the Congress chief, Lalu Prasad said: “We all should thank Sonia Gandhi, whose strong political determination revived the rail coach factory project that was stalled by the Mayawati government.”

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who represents Amethi in the Lok Sabha, said the factory will transform the entire region.

“With its establishment the rail coach factory will bring several auxiliary industrial units, which in turn will transform the industrial scenario of the entire state,” he said.

While Lalu Prasad and Rahul Gandhi left Rae Bareli after the launch, Sonia Gandhi stayed here. She will participate in several functions here Wednesday.

“Sonia Gandhi along with Minister for Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan will tomorrow inaugurate the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER),” congress spokesperson Akhilesh Singh said.

She will also inaugurate a newly constructed hostel at the Firoz Gandhi Engineering Institute and a customer care centre building at the Feroz Gandhi colony.

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