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NEWSNOTES
New Move for Railway Projects

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by Staff Reporter

The people of West Bengal are keeping their fingers crossed about the assurances given by the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar recently in Calcutta to an all –party delegation of MLAsof the State and a team of State’s Mps on starting implementation of long-delayed railway projects in the state or completing those work on which has remained suspended for want of allocation of funds in the current year’s Railway Budget. The sole BJP MP from this state was not present in the meeting and their ally TMC has boycotted the discussion for improvement of West Bengal.

The Railway Minister promised that work on the Digha-Tamluk, Howrah-Amta and Eklakhi-Balurghat project would be started immediately. The –Howrah-Amta and Howrah-Siakhalap projects , approved in 1974-75, were estimated to cost Rs.90 crores. The segment between Howrah and Bargachia has been completed and so far only about Rs23 crores have been spent. No provision has been made in the 1998-99 Railway Budget. The MLAs and MPs were of the view that there could be no reason delaying the projects so long. The Tamluk –Digha scheme sanctioned in 1987 is much behind schedule with only 23%of the work completed till February 1996.The Railway Minister also hoped that the problems of acquisition of land for the Eklakhi-Balurghat project would be resolved soon.

The Railway Minister was confident that the works on the New Jalpaiguri-Siliguri-New Bongaigaon section commence any day from now.

The Railway Minister did not make any commitment for expansion of the Metro Railway on the plea of funds crunch although the MLAs and MPs the project had to funded entirely by the Centre. The survey report on doubling of the Krishnagar –Lalgola section had been received by the Railway Board. The decision on starting work on this section would be taken soon, the Minister said.

Even though the public sector wagon manufacturing units have been starving of orders from the Railways, the Union Railway Minister assured the delegation members that on their demand 75%of orders would henceforth be placed on the public sector units.

The Railway Minister announced two new trains from Howrah would be introduced soon. One of these , Howrah-Kurla Express would be introduced on 15 January, the other being Howrah-Tiruchirapalli Expresson 28 February Left MPs had been pressing for introduction of these two trains for quite some time. The other promises mades by the Railway Minister include doubling of tracks between New Jalpaiguri and Malda and improvement of toy train services in Darjeeling. The work on doubling of the tracks between New Jalpaiguri and Malda would be completed by March next he said





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