One of the most keenly watched aspects of Tuesday’s Railway Budget, the first under a non-Trinamool Congress minister in the UPA II government, would be the fate of the railway projects in Bengal that were announced when Mamata Banerjee was at the helm of the ministry.
With chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s bitter rival in state politics, Adhir Chowdhury, now a junior minister in the Railways, reiterating time and again that funds for projects announced by her would be sanctioned on the basis of “viability”, the fate of many projects has become a matter of intense speculation.
Under the Trinamool Congress, several projects were announced across the state. A power plant project at Adra, railway industrial park at Jellingham, a railway axle factory in Jalpaiguri, wagon and coach component factories in Kulti, Budge Budge, Kharagpur, Dankuni, Haldia and Kanchrapara are some of them. Mamata Banerjee also announced around 15 railway hospitals in the state. Most of the projects are yet to get off the ground.
Banerjee was railway minister for two years — between May 2009 and May 2011 — followed by Dinesh Trivedi until March 2012. He was succeeded by Mukul Roy, who was in office till September 2012, when the Trinamool Congress pulled out of the Congress-led alliance at the Centre.
After Adhir Chowdhury took over as a minister of state (MoS) under Pawan Bansal, he has repeatedly questioned the feasibility of a number of projects announced by Mamata Banerjee. On Monday, a day before the Budget is to be tabled in Parliament, Chowdhury once again said, “Whoever announces the projects — be it Mamata, or Mukul, or someone from the BJP, what’s important is the viability.
“I might have ideological differences with someone, but that doesn’t mean that the projects will be discontinued on those grounds. I’ll do what’s beneficial for the state and feasible at the same time.”