Infrastructure projects moving at a snail’s pace
With a Minister from the Congress presenting the Railway Budget after nearly 15 years, Karnataka is hopeful of a fair deal that will balance the interests of all regions in the State.
Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government came to power in 1998, leaders of smaller coalition parties have held the Railway portfolio.
While Ram Vilas Paswan presented two budgets, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad presented six each, Mamata Banerjee five and Dinesh Trivedi one. As the support base of these parties was mainly in Bihar and West Bengal, there had been allegations that the budget catered to the interests of these two States.
Despite Karnataka being in the forefront of sharing the cost of railway projects, the progress of most of them, including doubling of the Bangalore-Mysore Railway line, and the new line between Bangalore and Hassan, had been slow.
The construction of new lines is taking time. The demand for a commuter rail system for Bangalore and the creation of new railway divisions at Mangalore and Gulbarga and bringing them under South Western Railway too were not addressed by successive Ministers.
With Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal hinting at equitable distribution of new trains and resources for ongoing as well new projects, Karnataka could hope for a better deal, felt K.N. Krishna Prasad, a retired government official who keenly follows the developments in the Indian Railways.
Prakash Mandoth, former member, Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, who has been concentrating on railway infrastructure projects in the State for the past 15 years, regretted that despite the declaration in 2008 to improve the facilities at the Bangalore City Station to world class standards, nothing had happened.
The budget should focus on improving the station infrastructure in Bangalore keeping in mind the growth in the next four-five decades, he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has written to Mr. Bansal saying that the Centre was yet to announce projects such as Srinivasapura-Madanapalle; K.R. Nagar-Kushalanagar; Kadiri-Puttaparthi; Chickaballapur-Puttaparthi and Dharwad-Belgaum, where the State government has committed to share half the cost and provide land for free.