The Left Front government in Tripura on Saturday voiced its unhappiness over the railway budget, saying Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee had ignored the northeast by announcing no new schemes or projects for the region.
"No new scheme or project was announced in the railway budget. The railways minister in her budget speech only reiterated the projects announced earlier," said Tripura Finance and Revenue Minister Badal Chowdhury.
Industry and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury said: "The railway ministry during the past 25 years had announced 22 projects for the land-locked northeast India, but unfortunately so far only two projects have been implemented."
According to Northeast Frontier Railway Divisional Manager S.S. Narayanan, Tripura capital Agartala is the first state capital in independent India to be connected with rail network with regular train services between Tripura and the rest of the country, which was started Oct 5 last year.
"People of Tripura and the northeast region are frustrated as the railway minister did not include any new project in her budget for the infrastructure and industry-starved region," Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey told newsmen.
The state committee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the dominant party of the ruling Left Front, has urged people of northeast India to organise protest demonstrations across the region against the budget.
Gautam Das, CPI-M spokesman, termed as "extremely inadequate" the Rs.300 million allocated for extension of the railway line up to Tripura's southernmost border town Sabroom. "The allocation was extremely inadequate while several other long pending demands were ignored," he said.
The demands include setting up of a railway division in Tripura and fixing the schedule for completion of gauge conversion in the Lumding-Agartala sector.
In a statement, the CPI-M said that the gauge conversion work in the Lumding-Badarpur section in southern Assam, which connects Tripura, had been suffering due to terror attacks in the north Cachar hills in Assam and the works for the project - announced in 1996 - had been stopped because of the "careless attitude of the Congress-led Assam government".
The party said the railway minister had not allocated any ministry funds for earlier projects for the northeast, and instead sought additional funds to the tune of Rs.194.90 billion from the union finance ministry. The projects include the Agartala-Sabroom railway extension works, Jiribam-Imphal, Dimapur-Kohima, Azra-Byrnihat, Bhairabi-Sairong and Sivok-Rangpo railway lines, Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam, Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam besides some projects in Jammu and Kashmir.