After TDP pullout, Centre rejects Andhra’s demand for separate rail zone
The establishment of a railway zone headquartered at Visakhapatnam was one of the key promises made to Andhra Pradesh in the bifurcation act.india Updated: Mar 13, 2018 18:45 IST
Days after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulled its ministers out of the Union cabinet, the Centre categorically rejected a demand for establishing a separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh on the grounds that it was neither technically feasible nor financially viable.
Union home ministry officials conveyed this message to Andhra Pradesh chief secretary Dinesh Kumar at a meeting held to discuss the implementation of promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014 in New Delhi on Monday.
The establishment of a railway zone headquartered at Visakhapatnam was one of the key promises made to Andhra Pradesh in the bifurcation act. As the South Central Railway is headquartered in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh has now been deprived of a railway division.
According to those familiar with the development, Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba told officials from Andhra Pradesh that a committee appointed to examine the feasibility of the special zone project found the proposal unviable. “Railway authorities present at the meeting maintained that such a project will do little other than give rise to additional administrative expenditure,” an official said.
Ironically, Union railway minister Piyush Goel had told the Rajya Sabha on February 6 that the Centre was seriously considering the installation of the separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh. Even finance minister Arun Jaitley made a similar contention last week. The TDP’s decision to pull out of the NDA government, however, seems to have changed all that.
“We have already suggested that a new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh by merging the Waltair (Visakhapatnam), Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions could be formed. Since the rail network in the state is expanding, it will definitely be financially viable,” said Srikakulam MP K Rammohan Naidu in his letter to Goel.
PVN Madhav, BJP legislator and spokesperson, said all was not lost yet. “We are still confident that the NDA government will take a positive decision on the matter,” he said.
A delegation of TDP MPs met Goel on Tuesday evening to submit a representation on the issue. They vowed to continue agitating until the demands were met.