Amid the huge uproar over Bengal being “deprived” in the Rail Budget, the observers feel that the problem lies with the state and not with the Railways.
In the previous three budgets, several projects were proposed for the state. Most of these projects, however, are still fettered in the red tape and have remained stalled due to “administrate reasons”, “political crisis” and “land acquisition issues”.
Significantly, the Eastern Railways that started operations in August, 1854, did not get anything in this budget. “This is for the first time in history that not even an EMU local train has been santioned for the Eastern Railways. It never happened,” said a senior official of the Eastern Railways.
Two trains —- Paradeep-Howrah Express (weekly) and Shalimar-Chennai Premium AC Express —- with Bengal connect have been announced for South Eastern Railways.
Of the projects sanctioned for Bengal in last 10 years, more than 50 are still pending. According to the Railways sources, of the total sanctioned 376 projects that are yet to get off the mark in several states, 50 are in Bengal
Some of these stalled projects include the coach factories at Kanhrapara, Haldia and Singur, wagon component factory at Jellinghum, power plant at Adra and some factories in north Bengal.
A much-hyped project, Eastern Freight Corridor headquarterd at Dankuni is yet to progress further in absence of proper funding, though, railway officials said that talks are on to get more money for the project.
Another hyped project pending in Bengal is East West Metro that was supposed to be the first of its kind in the country. The metro was to pass through a tunnel in river Hooghly. The Rs 4,900-crore project is now under litigation as the state government wanted to change the route alignment after facing problems in acquiring land in Bowbazzar area. Some other metro extension projects including, Airport-Garia and Dum Dum-Noapara are yet to gain progress due to land and administrative issues.
Santragachi and Shalimar terminals —- projects with cumulative worth Rs 400 crore — are also stuck in some “administrative” issues. S R Thakur, former additional member of Railway Board said, “Most of the railways projects are not stuck due to fund problems. Railways never said that it would not give funds for projects such as East West Metro or other metro extension projects. These projects are stalled due to other problems. Let the state solve these issues first and the funds would come from the Railways.”
However, he added that there are certain projects announced in Bengal, which were never required. “So, those projects perhaps do not have a future and it includes some factories, which were announced,” he added.