Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has laid foundation stones, inaugurated or flagged off 104 rail projects in her home state of West Bengal in six months (from April to September 2010).
In the same period, Banerjee launched rail projects at less than half a dozen locations outside of Bengal.
Ahead of the assembly elections in West Bengal next year, Banerjee has dashed about the state’s countryside with purpose and speed.
On September 5, she flagged off 17 pairs of new local trains from Howrah.
Three days later, she laid the foundation stone at Prinsep Ghat station for the construction of double line between Prinsep Ghat and Tala over the Kolkata circular railway.
On September 13, the railways minister laid the foundation stone for rail axle factory and inaugurated five other projects at New Jalpaiguri.
In the past seven and a half months of this fiscal, Banerjee has inaugurated approximately one railway project a day in West Bengal.
Although funds are unavailable and specifics of track alignments remain to be finalised, the railways minister inaugurated the ambitious 1,806 kilometer long Eastern Freight Corridor at Dankuni in West Bengal on Tuesday.
“Once the initial work starts, investments will start coming in,” Banerjee told reporters.
“Banerjee is running amok. Funds are not available for a majority of projects. She is merely playing to the gallery and pursuing a populist agenda — at the cost of the public exchequer,” said Basudeb Acharia, CPM leader.
Interestingly, neither of the two Mos for railways has inaugurated even one of the projects in Bengal. On occasions when Banerjee has not had time to lay a foundation stone; the honours have been done by Trinamool Congress MPs.
“Railways ministers have normally been partial to their home states, but Banerjee has taken things to absurd levels...,” BJP leader and former railways minister Ram Naik said.
Railway minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday inaugurated work for the Ludhiana-Dankuni eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). Banerjee came up with an innovative funding pattern for freight corridors that requires investors to fund bits and pieces of the project involving R56,000 crore.