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Mamata axle factory project in doubt

- Private partner not in sight: Adhir

Alipurduar, Sept. 15: A railway axle factory that Mamata Banerjee had said would come up in New Jalpaiguri is yet to attract any private investment, minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury said today.

Adhir, here today to campaign for Alipurduar civic polls scheduled for September 21, said the Union railway ministry intended to execute the project in the PPP mode.

“We are aware of the axle factory project, which would be made in PPP mode. So far, we have not found any investor for it,” Chowdhury told journalists after holding a meeting with officials of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

“Other railway projects taken up earlier, like the extension of rail network on Changrabandha-Domohoni route and construction of the New Mainaguri-Jogighopa are in progress.”

The axle factory, announced by Mamata when she was the railway minister, would be the largest industrial project planned by the Centre in north Bengal if it is executed.

Back in September 2010, Mamata had laid the foundation stone for the axle factory that would be built on unused railway land near NJP railway station. The project would be executed by the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), she had said.

On January 10, 2011, a release mentioned that a MoU was signed between the railways and RINL, which is a government PSU under the ministry of steel, for setting up the factory. The Rs 300-crore project would manufacture and supply axles to meet the growing requirement of the railways.

However, Chowdhury’s statement has put a question mark on the project.

Trinamul leaders alleged that the UPA government was halting railway projects planned by Mamata with political interests.

“It is evident that the Congress, with political interests, is trying to delay or halt the projects taken up by Mamata Banerjee,” state minister Gautam Deb said.