When railways minister Mamata Banerjee launched “commencement of work” on the 1,906-km-long Eastern Freight Corridor on Tuesday, she was only doing what her predecessor Lalu Prasad had done last year.
The only difference, predictably, is the side of the Bengal-Bihar border.
Prasad had UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurate work on the project from Rohtas in Bihar. Banerjee launched the project from Dankuni in West Bengal.
On February 9 last year, UPA chairperson inaugurated the start of the 127-km-long Sonnagar-Mughalsarai section of the Eastern Freight Corridor at an impressive function at Rohtas. Besides Prasad, those present on the occasion included then union ministers Meira Kumar, Kanti Singh, Narainbhai J Rathwa and Dr. R Velu. Prasad announced at the function that project construction work would initially be taken up on a 105-km section from New Ganjkhwaja near Mughalsarai to New Karwandia near Sonnagar.
Twenty months later, Banerjee inaugurated the ‘first phase’ construction work on the mega project again on November 16 this year — this time for the 25.41 kilometer long dedicated track from Dankuni to Chandanpur.
In her budget speech of 2010-11, Banerjee had proposed that construction work on the Eastern Corridor would be taken up from Dankuni. Subsequently, she had sanctioned R190.46 crore for this in the supplementary grant of this year’s railway budget.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor is India’s largest infrastructure project covering 2,762 kilometres on India’s western and eastern flanks.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone of the Eastern corridor at Ludhiana in September 2006, while inaugurating the Western Corridor at Mumbai in October 2006.