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School, IIT on railway land

Calcutta, Feb. 10: Mamata Banerjee today promised a deal with the Union human resource development ministry to build “schools, colleges and IITs” on railway land.

The railway minister said she was in talks with HRD and a memorandum of understanding could be signed in a matter of days.

“Discussions are being held with the human resource development ministry. We are going to build schools, colleges and IITs,” she said on the sidelines of the opening of a computerised passenger reservation centre at Gariahat here this evening.

“Within three months of assuming charge, I created a land bank of 1,12,000 acres. Besides the dedicated freight corridor and industry, educational institutions can also come up on some of the land,” she added.

Railway ministry officials from Delhi said they were not aware of any plan to build IITs. Mamata had informally spoken to human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on three occasions recently, said one official. “The railway minister had asked Sibal to set up Kendriya Vidyalayas on railway land. Sibal had said he would consider the matter.”

According to him, Mamata was keen on the Kendriya Vidyalayas.

Last week, the railway minister had announced a tie-up with the Union health ministry and promised to build over 40 super-speciality hospitals across India, including as many as nine in Bengal.

On a signing spree, she also said today that IIT Kharagpur was on her radar for research on development of railways’ infrastructure.

“The MoU, to be signed on February 13, will involve IIT students in research work on infrastructure development of the railways,” she said.

“If necessary, the railways will provide scholarships to the IITians involved in research for the railways,” the minister added.

At the south Calcutta event, Mamata also announced railway connectivity to Bengal’s Maoist-hit areas in West Midnapore and Purulia with the introduction of two trains.

While the Birsa Express will connect Jhargram with Purulia, the Junglemahal Express will link Midnapore with Jhargram.

The Trinamul leader, who had earlier opposed the Centre and the state’s joint operations against the Maoists in Lalgarh, will flag off both trains on February 13.

To cut red tape, Mamata said she was in favour of simplifying the tender process, especially for the railways. “Simplification of the tender process is a must for faster progress of government projects. I’m all for simplification of the process.”

Mamata challenged the state government indirectly to compete with her in implementation of development projects.

“Let’s all compete in our work for development. People will judge whether they do more or we do. People cannot be fooled with ornate speeches on television. They want their representatives to work for them,” she said.

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