Monday, June 08, 2009

Implementation of Bihar projects a tough task for Mamata

PATNA: Implementation of projects worth about Rs 55000 crore given to Bihar during the tenure of Lalu Prasad as railway minister will prove to be a tough task for his successor Mamata Banerjee.

Railway projects worth about Rs 55000 crore were sanctioned for Bihar during the last five years for its all-round development

Mamata, who was also a railway minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, is in her second innings as the railway minister and functioning of the railway ministry is well known to her. Bihar obviously has high expectations from the ministry of railways so far as railway development works are concerned.

It remains to be seen how Mamata as the railway minister ensures completion of all the pending projects in Bihar in time. Many railway development projects worth crores of rupees urgently need completion.

For instance, the rail-cum-road bridge over river Ganga at Digha and two mega bridges at Munger and Nirmali in north Bihar are directly related to the state's development. Besides, the proposed locomotive (diesel and electric) manufacturing factories at Marhaura in Saran and Madhepura, respectively, are likely to give a new fillip to the socio-economic condition of Bihar.

A Railway Board official admitted that Bihar was gradually gaining a special status as the hub for the Indian Railways as most of the factories, barring the coach manufacturing one, were proposed to be set up in Bihar. Currently, the civil work for the wheel factory has been going on at Belapur in Saran. However, much will depend on the flow of money to all these projects. It would be clear when Mamata presents her regular railway budget in July listing her priorities, the official said.

Bihar always used to get a lion's share in the railway budget. A record number of new trains were started from Bihar, thus connecting the state to important places across the country. In passenger amenities too, Bihar used to get a big share in each railway budget.

Justifying sanctions of a slew of major railway projects in Bihar, a Railway Board official told TOI that the East Central Railway (ECR) has been the mainstay of the Indian Railways from the earning point of view. The pace of development, however, galvanised during Nitish Kumar's tenure as the railway minister which focused on modernisation of railways and safety plan for passengers, sources said.

Many decisions taken by former railway minister Lalu Prasad like ticket upgradation, 50 per cent berths earmarked under Tatkal booking, side middle berths, charge on booking return journey tickets and many others need to be reviewed by Mamata.
Source : Times of India