Lalu announces Hospet-Patna Garib RathAugust 13th, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS
By Fakir Balaji
Hospet (Karnataka), Aug 13 (IANS) On the spur of the moment, union railways minister Lalu Prasad Wednesday announced that a Garib Rath (air-conditioned train for the poor) would be run from Hospet in north Karnataka, close to the world heritage site of Hampi ruins, to Patna, capital of his home state Bihar. Hospet, about 460 kms from Bangalore, is the nearest railway station to the 15th century Hampi ruins — a distance of some 15 kms.
Though a small town on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, Hospet, in Bellary district, shot into fame over the last seven to eight years due to the roaring iron ore mining business.
“A direct train from Patna to Hospet will enable thousands of tourists and pilgrims to visit the historic Hampi. We will run a Garib Rath to help the poor, the needy and rural folk to travel in air-conditioned comfort between the two cities,” Lalu told a gathering of about 300 people in Hindi with the typical Bihari accent drawing a round of applause.
He said Biharis living in north Karnataka would also be benefited by a direct train between Hospet and Patna.
Lalu recalled that it was under his ministership that Indian railways started the Garib Rath trains to provide AC comfort for the poor. These trains have so far been provided between state capitals and the national capital. The proposed Hospet-Patna Garib Rath will be the first between a state capital and a non-capital town.
He, however, did not mention when the service will actually commence.
Lalu, who landed at Hospet by a helicopter from Bangalore four hours behind schedule, inaugurated a three-star hotel built by Gopal Singh, a leading mining magnate and brother of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Hospet Anand Singh. The Singh family hails from Bihar.
Responding to local demand, Lalu directed south western railway general manager Praveen Kumar to convert the Bangalore-Hampi link express into a full-fledged 22-24 bogie mail train to meet the heavy passenger traffic from Bangalore to Hospet and the district headquarters Bellary, about 60 km away.
Gopal Singh told IANS: “we have about 20,000 foreign and 100,000 Indian tourists visiting Hampi every year. In addition, the heightened economic activity arising out of mining business has brought in a steady flow of corporate clientele from major cities to Bellary and Hospet.”
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