Soon after she took over the Railway Ministry at the beginning of UPA-II,Mamata Banerjee had brought out a white paper saying that there was no truth in the rosy picture painted by her predecessor in UPA-I,Lalu Prasad,about Railways finances. Four years later,the Congress is going to give Mamata a taste of her own medicine.
This week Minister of State for Railways and known Mamata baiter,Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury,will table in Parliament a similar white paper exposing the bonanza of railway works Mamata had announced for West Bengal during her time.
The upshot of the white paper is that most of the new projects/works announced by Mamata for Bengal were devoid of financial prudence,lacked vision,projected unrealistic employment benefits and resulted in infructuous,injudicious expenditure.
It turns out that during the three-and-half years of the Trinamool Congress rule in the Railway Ministry,Mamata showered 92 new works worth Rs 21,000 crore in new lines,material medication,doubling and gauge conversion,which is almost two-and-half times more than what Bengal got during the whole of UPA-I.
These works apart,large projects were conjured out of thin air with no roadmap on whether the national transporter needed them at all,the white paper is going to say,elaborating on around 10 such large projects.
To negate the argument from the TMC that Mamata was making up for the less allocation to Bengal during UPA-I,Chowdhurys white paper will reveal that much of the money allocated up to 50 per cent could not be spent till date because either the state government was unable to ensure land acquisition or the zonal railways concerned were stretched thin beyond capacity.
For instance,a Diesel Multiple Unit factory in Haldia,West Bengal proposed by Mamata in 2009-10 would actually wheel in just eight fully made rakes from the railway factory in Chennai and simply fit the interiors there. According to assessment,it will not only take away a part of the existing job from Chennai but also add to the expenditure by the 800 km wheeling in of the rakes. The works require technical knowhow and hence,the projection of employment benefits to local population is false,we have realised, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
Instances are plenty. Sources said that last year in the rail budget presented by the TMC the Kolkata Metro got an allocation of around Rs 4,000 crore. One year down the line,it was able to spend only around 15 per cent of it,leading to Railways pulling the funds back.