Behrampore, Feb. 26: Junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury pushed through a Rs 68-crore tower van repairing project for Murshidabad at the last minute so that his supporters in his constituency would not be disappointed with the “poor” package for Bengal in the railway budget.
Murshidabad has also got a national skill development institute and a few railway lines.
Railway officials said that a couple of days ago, Chowdhury got a whiff that there were hardly any goodies for Murshidabad in the rail budget and persuaded minister Pawan Bansal to include the tower van repairing project. Tower vans are used to mend overhead wires.
The project is not mentioned in the printed railway budget speech because it was included at the last moment. But Bansal spoke about it in his speech in Parliament.
Chowdhury told The Telegraph: “It is mentioned in the pink book (that has details of allocation of funds and the summary of the projects in the new budget).”
Despite the project, many in Mushidabad, especially in Chowdhury’s Behrampore Lok Sabha constituency, said they were disappointed as a survey for new tracks for the district that was mentioned in former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi’s budget found no mention in Bansal’s budget.
People of Kandi, which too falls under Chowdhury’s Behrampore constituency, said they were upset because of the lack of monetary allotment for the 64km Chowrighata-Kandi-Sainthia railway line in the Howrah division.
The proposed rail link connects Chowrighata near Katwa in Burdwan with Sainthia in Birbhum via Kandi.
“During her tenure as railway minister, Mamata Banerjee had sanctioned Rs 302.15 crore for the rail link in the 2009 budget. A survey was done in 2011. But the rail link is not there in today’s budget,” said Pravat Kar, the secretary of the Kandi railway passenger committee. “We do not know the fate of the project.”
He said when Chowdhury had inaugurated a computerised reservation ticket counter in Kandi on November 16, officials had inspected a site near the area for a railway station in the proposed rail link.
“We have been agitating for nearly 25 years for the rail link because it will minimise the distance between Kandi and Calcutta and immensely help farmers and small traders who travel daily to the city,” Kar said.
A railway official said that the omission did not mean the project had been shelved.
Mohammed Jamaluddin, a farmer in Behrampore, said the people of Murshidabad had “high expectations” from Chowdhury. “We had thought we would get more. But I suppose the senior railway minister who is from another state had other plans. There are large stretches in the district where railway lines have not been electrified.”
Imani Biswas, Congress MLA from Suti that comes under Adhir’s constituency, also protested the omission of the electrification of 150km of rail line between Farakka and Katwa from the budget.