iconimg Monday, May 04, 2015

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 22, 2012
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had tried her best to restrict other states from getting foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail through her opposition to the centre's policy.

Now, the Trinamool chief is trying to put a stop to railway's proposal to increase speed of trains on two key inter-state routes.

The railway is keen to restore the maximum train-speed of 110 kmph in Kharagpur-Rourkela and Kharagpur-Adra routes from the current limit of 70 kmph that was imposed after the fatal blast in Jnaneswari Express in 2010. The stretches fall in Maoist-affected areas.

While Odisha and Jharkhand government are keen to see faster train service Banerjee's government has not responded to the railway ministry's proposal.

If trains are allowed to run at the speed of 110 kmph, journey between eastern India and cities like Mumbai or Nagpur and Odisha and northern cities would be less time-consuming.

"The routes get clogged and trains get delayed for almost 1-2 hours, besides there is the fuel losses," minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury told Hindustan Times.

"We had invited the West Bengal police DG for talks in Kolkata. For past one year the corridors have remained incident-free and railway feels that trains can run on higher speed. But shockingly, West Bengal police skipped the meeting," Chowdhury added.

As maintaining the law and order situation is the responsibility of the state government, the railways need their approval for increasing speed in Maoist-affected areas.

Banerjee was the railway minister when Maoists blew up Jnaneswari Express killing 148 passengers. The speed limit was imposed during her tenure.

On the FDI issue, Banerjee had refused to pay heed to the Centre's policy allowing each state government to decide on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and tried to topple the government by bringing a no-confidence motion in parliament. The motion, however, failed to get admitted.