Plan panel upsets Mamataa's gift ideas for Bengal
Railways minister Mamataa Banerjee's plan to announce a "pre-election gift" to West Bengal in this year's rail budget is being blocked by the Planning Commission.delhi Updated: Feb 07, 2011 23:37 IST
Railways minister Mamataa Banerjee's plan to announce a "pre-election gift" to West Bengal in this year's rail budget is being blocked by the Planning Commission.
Two-and-a-half weeks before Banerjee presents this year's rail budget, the Planning Commission had approved 19 major civil works projects including those relating to the construction of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects.
Just two of these are for West Bengal.
The latest list of 13 approved projects costing Rs 10,167 crore does not include a single project from the railways minister's home state.
These projects include the construction of 635 km of new lines at a cost of Rs 5,040 crore besides 632 km of gauge conversion projects costing Rs 2,098 crore and 696 km of doubling schemes at a cost of Rs 3,029 crore.
The issue of possible inclusion of these projects in the upcoming rail budget is scheduled to be discussed at the meeting of the expanded board for railways on February 9.
Documents in possession of the HT indicate that Banerjee's intentions are to parcel out approximately 25% of the total civil works in this year's rail budget for poll-bound Bengal.
Of the 75 proposals sent out to the Planning Commission by the Railways, as many as 19 relate to Bengal.
These include proposals for a new Broad Gauge (BG) line from Okato to Diamond Harbour with link line from Bakrashat to Pujali, a new BG line from Salboni to Jhargram and the 42 km link from Digha to Jaleshwar.
So far, Banerjee's enthusiasm to carve out huge dollops for Bengal in this year's budget has not found much favour with the Planning Commission, finance ministry or the ministry of programme implementation.
"But she is likely to exert her political influence to get the Bengal-related projects included in the budget at the last hour," sources say.