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Bengal rly plans to go offtrack?

delhi Updated: Sep 22, 2012 00:35 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times
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With Mukul Roy's exit as the railways minister, a question mark has come to hold over the rail projects costing approximately Rs. 70,000 crore that are being implemented in West Bengal, even as the Congress is likely to retain the portfolio.

Suresh Kalmadi was the last Congressmen to have held charge as the railways minister.

Over the last one and a half decades, the railways portfolio has mostly been held by leaders of coalition partners of the Union government including Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) and Nitish Kumar (JD-U).

In the UPA 2 term, Roy was the third Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader to hold office after Mamata Banerjee and Dinesh Trivedi.

Among them, the three ministers had showered rather a bounty for Bengal - 17 projects for new lines, four of gauge conversion and 42 doubling projects estimated to cost Rs. 30,000 crore - besides several metro projects in Kolkata.

Work on 16 big projects for the state costing approximately Rs. 30,000 more had also been announced. These included an EMU coach factory at Kanchrapara; a wagon manufacturing factory at Kulti among others.

"The Bengal Express is now likely to get derailed, as future railways minister is unlikely to have the same focus," an official said.

The exit of a particular railways minister in the past has often resulted in the considerable slowing down of projects announced by him/her.

Lalu Prasad, the railways minister in UPA 1, had announced three mega projects for Bihar. The projects have not moved forward in the last five years.