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State gets crumbs from Gowda platter

Ranchi, July 8: Jharkhand, which sent 12 BJP MPs out of 14 in a thumping support to the Narendra Modi government, today received crumbs from its railway budget such as a weekly express, two passenger trains and the promise of speedy construction of coal connectivity lines in North Karanpura.

Union railway minister D.V. Sadanand Gowda announced Tatanagar-Baiyyappanahali (Bangalore) Express, Hatia–Rourkela Passenger, Sambalpur–Rourkela and an extension of Jhajha–Patna line till Jasidih and stressed on fast construction of critical coal connectivity lines in Tori-Shivpur-Kathautia areas to expedite fuel transport to power plants.

The state’s other tangible acche din hope on tracks was limited to Gowda stressing on speedy completion of pending mega projects, which Jharkhand has in plenty.

In his maiden railway budget, Gowda spoke of prioritising timelines and needing Rs 5 lakh crore to complete ongoing projects, the trickle-down of which should help Jharkhand’s five unfinished projects Ranchi-Barkakana-Hazaribagh-Koderma (203 kms), Ranchi-Lohardaga- up to Tori (113km), Koderma-Tilaiya (14km), Koderma-Giridih (111km) and Dumka-Rampurhat (64km), which started in 2002.

But, Jharkhand, which pinned big hopes on this year’s railway budget, is feeling cheated.

“Jharkhand ke saath nyay nahin, anyay hua hai. Janata ko tay karna hai ki acche din hain ya burey din (Injustice has been meted out to Jharkhand. People must decide if the days are good or bad),” chief minister Hemant Soren told The Telegraph.

Besides completion of proposed rail lines, Jharkhand had been looking forward to expedition of double tracks, more express and passenger trains, construction of a pit-line from Namkum to Kandra and so on.

Most stayed unfulfilled. “It is still night in Jharkhand and the dawn of achhe din seems delayed. The state which gave 12 MPs to the ruling government was sorely neglected,” summed up a senior bureaucrat who did not want to be named.

“The state hasn’t got a single worthwhile train,” he continued, citing the absence of any Jansadharan or premium AC trains.

State transport commissioner Manoj Kumar consoled himself with saying: “At least, there is hope for pending projects.”

Ashok Nagpal, president of Chotanagpur Passengers’ Association, called the budget “a bag full of gems but with nothing for the gem producing state”. “The budget has absolutely saddened me,” he said. “Parliament has 12 BJP members from our state. Everyone had the demand list. What happened?”

President of Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FJCCI) Bikash Kumar Singh said: “I do not know what to say. We were very optimistic. But Jharkhand, despite giving high revenues, was not considered for even one good train.”

He praised many announcements. “The bullet train, recruitment of women constables, wi-fi system in A1 and A category stations and trains, Char Dham connectivity were all great. But then where do we figure? Nowhere. What did our 12 honourable Members of Parliament do?” he said.

Ranchi railway divisional manager Deepak Kashyap said they would have to be satisfied with the launch of only one train in the division, Hatia-Rourkela Passenger. “I cannot really comment more,” he said.

Across the strata, Jharkhandis had diverse reactions.

Chhitarmal Patni, a Jain follower associated with several associations of Jain Samaj, said: “Though the budget is not very pleasing, if few promises such as Char Dham link and trains for important pilgrimage circuits include Jharkhand, it will please us. At present, there is no proper connectivity to Parasnath, an important Jain pilgrimage.”

Ayush Kumar, BCom student of St Xavier’s College, however loved the wi-fi, eco and education tourism aspects. “The budget also announced summer internships for undergraduate students from engineering backgrounds. It is actually a great thought,” he said.

Manashi Biswas, artist and regular traveller to Calcutta, said: “Women’s safety is a very important inclusion. Recruitment of women constables is a move I certainly appreciate.”


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