To work for alleviation of problems of slum-dwellers living on railway lands

Union Minister of State for Railways Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy flagged off two regular weekly Express trains – one to Chennai and the other to Shirdi – in the presence of Union Minister of State for Industries D. Purandeswari, Minister for Infrastructure and Ports Ganta Srinivasa Rao, MLAs Dronamraju Srinivas, Malla Vijay Prasad, Chintalapudi Venkataramaiah and Anaparthy MLA Sesha Reddy – at the Railway Station here on Saturday.

Responding to the demands for formation of a separate zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters and other issues like re-routing of diverted trains, Mr. Suryaprakash Reddy said he fully understood the aspirations of the local people and promised to join hands with them in their struggle for creation of a new zone. He announced that the Visakhapatnam – Tirupati train would be stopped at Duvvada and said Howrah – Tirupati would be re-routed through Visakhapatnam. He also promised to strive for alleviation of the problems of slum dwellers living on railways lands.

Fare hike

He, however, said in AP alone development works to the tune of Rs. 25,000 crore were pending and it could take another 50 years for their completion, considering the poor financial position of the Railways. He said a fare hike was inevitable in the next budget to raise finances but added that the lower classes would be spared.

Ms. Purandeswari sought re-scheduling of the timings of the Visakhapatnam - Chennai Weekly Express so as to reach Chennai by 5.30 or 6 a.m. She said since the introduction of the Shirdi Sai Nagar Special, a few years ago, the berths have been overbooked by more than 100 per cent. She sought that it should be made into a daily train. Referring to the proposal for ‘re-classification of railway zones’, she appealed to Mr. Suryaprakash Reddy to ensure that the committee, constituted for the purpose, should submit its report in a fixed time frame.

She sought that he should take the initiative for the zone as it was a ‘political decision’, to end the ‘step motherly’ attitude of East Coast Railway towards Waltair Division. She also sought renaming of the two trains in tune with the aspirations of the local people. Mr. Ganta Srinivasa Rao said the Railway Zone Sadhana Samithi has been fighting for a separate zone for the last several years and hoped that it would materialise during the tenure of Mr. Suryaprakash Reddy. He recalled how Railway Ministers had favoured their native states in the past. Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar briefed about the development works being undertaken at Visakhapatnam Railway Station.

Uttarandhra JAC leader J.T. Rama Rao demanded sought a commitment from the Railway Minister on formation of a separate zone but the latter pacified him saying that he had already announced his support to the demand.

East Coast Railway Shramik Congress Divisional Coordinator V.J. Ajay Kumar, Zonal Railway Users Committee Member D. Varada Reddy and Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Beesetti Nookeswara Rao were present.

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