The tit-for-tat between the Railways and Mamata Banerjee government seem to continue with renewed vigour with the former seeking a review of uneconomic longdistance trains flagged off during the tenure of Trinamool railway ministers.
The move comes less than 10 days after the state government slapped a fine on Eastern Railways for environmental pollution in Asansol.
Sources in the railways said that the Railway Board has already directed both Eastern Railways (ER) and South Eastern Railways (SER) to review uneconomic trains such as Duronto Express (Howrah-Delhi, Sealdah-Delhi, Sealdah-Puri, Howrah-Puri and Howrah-Digha), much-publicised double decker running between Howrah and Dhanbad and several others.
The Duronto series was a special personal favourite of Trinamool chief and former railway minister Mamata Banerjee (May 2009-2011).
"The Railway Board has verbally directed our chief passenger traffic manager (CPTM) to review the viability of trains like Duronto Express," Samir Goswami, chief public relations officer of ER, said.
Though Goswami claimed there are no problems with Duronto Express running between Howrah-Delhi, Sealdah-Delhi and SealdahPuri, railway sources told HT plans are being tossed around whether stations can be added to these nonstop trains.
Three weeks after Trinamool withdrew support from the UPA II government on September 21, Mamata Banerjee's government slapped a fine of R28 lakh on the railways for polluting the environment at Asansol. The first salvo was fired by the Railways that kicked off the process of scanning expenditure incurred at inaugural/ foundation stone laying functions of different railway projects in Bengal since May 2010, a year after Trinamool got control of the railways in the UPA II government.
The Bengal government responded by slapping a fine of R28 lakh in early October. "We have fined the amount on the railways hardly five days ago because it was polluting the environment severely for years in the Asansol railway siding at Apcar Garden and adjoining villages. The railways used to load and unload coal, minerals, cement and food grains at the railway violating environment rules," Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, state environment minister, told HT.
"The government will take further action if they do not pay the fine," the environment minister threatened. The pollution was so bad that locals complained of health hazards, mainly respiratory problems, he said.
"The railways ignored our requests to take proper action to prevent environment pollution. Left with no alternative we were forced to slap the amount," Ghosh Dastidar said. "We have also requested the railways to submit an action plan on how to prevent pollution at the site to the Pollution Control Board (PCB)," a PCB official said.