Acute fund constraints is holding up railway works across the country,but no other state is as burdened as West Bengal,where the zonal railways is saddled with more than they can chew,thanks to Mamata Banerjees Trinamool Congress showering railway works in the state since 2009.
Kolkata-based Eastern Railway has requested for an additional Rs 350 crore from the Railways Ministry to complete its works,including new lines,doubling and gauge conversion,apart from other expenditure. While Rs 100 crore would be needed for new projects,another Rs 200 crore would be needed for important projects. With funding being a major issue,it has told the ministry it may not be able to reach its target of completing 170 km of new lines,doubling and gauge conversion.
Railways has told the zone that it would not be possible to allot extra money. With large number of projects to be finished,the total fund allotted is barely 5 per cent of what the projected cost (including escalation due to delays). The Railways is in the process of freezing certain projects to give weightage to others.
Announcement of railway works in abundance in Bengal has been a hallmark of Trinamool Congresss rule in the ministry,especially before it assumed power in Bengal in 2011. Their completion is now a challenge for Railways. But the TMC,now in power in Bengal,is reportedly not extending cooperation of the state government to make matters smoother for the national transporter. Zonal railways has complained to the ministry that ever since the TMCs exit from the UPA,the Bengal government has slowed down the land-acquisition process for the projects.
They (TMC) have not appointed competent authorities in districts to oversee land acquisition because of which all projects are held up. Now they dont want railway projects to progress because they are not in the Railways anymore and dont want the Centre to claim credit for their completion, Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told The Indian Express.
For instance,the restoration work in Azimganj-Murshidabad route may not be completed because a 500-m land strip has still not been acquired. Such instances are plenty.
There is politics involving rail projects in Bengal,where the TMC claims credit for bringing the projects to the state but assails the Congress-led Centre for slowing down projects and depriving people of Bengal.