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Railway Budget: What Bengal may get

Last updated on: February 23, 2010 11:43 IST

Railway Budget: What Bengal may get

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Rediff Business Desk

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee is often accused of being parochial -- she has, on many occasions, been blamed for being tilted in favour of her home state of West Bengal, at least as far as railway projects are concerned.

The minister, however, has refuted all the charges in her usual, inimitable style.

This year's Railway Budget, too, is expected to shower a lot of 'boons' on the people of West Bengal.

It should be mentioned here that at a Cabinet meeting on February 18, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee lost his cool after Banerjee put across some of her plans for Bengal.

Mukherjee had told her that the economies of scale of what she was suggesting were not feasible. The finance minister was irked with her colleague as she suggested not increasing freight rates or passenger fares.

Mukherjee gave the railway minister such a dressing down that she was almost reduced to tears.

However, despite the drama, the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure finally cleared 24 of her projects, of which 10 are from West Bengal.

This slide show presents a sneak preview of what West Bengal might get out of this year's Railway Budget. Read on...

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Photographs: Reuters
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While presenting the Interim Railway Budget in July 2009, Banerjee promised to set up railway hospitals across the country.

According to railway ministry insiders, in the Railway Budget to be presented in the Parliament on February 24, West Bengal may get nine railway hospitals with state-of-the art facilities at Jalpaiguri or Siliguri, Malda, Asansol, Kharagpur, Bardhaman, Kanchrapara, Barasat, Howrah and Garden Reach.

In fact, at Barasat, a piece of land has been earmarked for such a project.

Plans are also afoot to upgrade the suburban railway station of Furfura Sharif.



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The railway minister also plans expansion of four metro lines across Kolkata and its suburbs -- Dum Dum to Barasat, Majherhat to Maidan and Gariahat, Dum Dum to Dakshineswar and Dum Dum to Barrackpore.

Setting up an eco park at the Metro Railway land in Noapara is also on railway's anvil. However, the project may take some time to get started because of financial constraints.

The railway ministry is planning to launch 15 more Duronto Express trains in the coming budget, as the end-to-end non-stop train has caught the fancy of passengers.

The ministry has made a list of 40 routes in 28 high-density sectors. Of these, depending on availability of rakes, 15 Durontos are expected to be announced on various routes, including Mumbai-Chennai, Bhubaneswar-Varanasi, Patna-Yesvantpur, Lucknow-Guwahati, Guwahati-Chennai, Amritsar-Darbhanga and Howrah-Chennai.

Of these, West Bengal may get at least four or five.



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The railway minister plans to upgrade Kharagpur railway station and make it world class.

Mamata Banerjee may announce setting up schools in collaboration with Kendriya Vidyalaya on vacant railway land and many of them are expected to be located in West Bengal.

However, Banerjee also faces complaints of unkept promises and allegations of laying foundation stones without waiting for the mandatory clearances.

In the 2009 rail budget, Banerjee announced a railway coach factory at Kanchrapara, about 45 km from Kolkata, and said her ministry would take over the ailing Burn Standard's wagon manufacturing unit.

In addition, she sanctioned for the state half of the 309 Adarsh stations, five of the 50 world class stations, four of the 12 non-stop Duranta trains, a dedicated eastern freight corridor from Ludhiana to Kolkata, apart from a 1,000 MW captive power plant.

Some of these promises have not been kept, complain her fellow citizens.



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As far as model stations are concerned, Bengal may get seven this time -- Devagram, Chengail, Fuleswar, Kulgacchia, Danton, Kalaikunda and Hijli.

Sodepur in the northern suburb is expected to be redeigned as a model station and two north Kolkata stations -- Dum Dum Cantontment and Bagnan -- to be connected through subways.

A new railway line will be laid between Katwa in Bardhaman district and Tehatta.

Last but not the least, insiders say that this railway Budget will announce setting up of a new satellite tracking system that will go a long way in preventing accidents.

Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation or SIMRAN uses GPS and GPRS technologies to give real-time information on the movement of trains across the country.

SIMRAN used a device, which when installed in railway engines, will pass the data through GPS to computers at railway stations. The data will be displayed on plasma screens at railway stations.



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