She announced a scheme in 2011-12 Railway budget ‘without basis or support’

A parliamentary committee has criticised Mamata Banerjee for “misleading the people” by announcing a scheme without any basis and support in the Railway budget for 2011-12.

In its report tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the Railway Convention Committee disapproved of the manner in which Ms. Banerjee, as Railway Minister, announced the Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana for developing backward areas. Under the scheme, she promised to execute 114 socially desirable projects that would require Rs. 5 lakh crore in additional funding.

The Planning Commission informed the committee that the Railways never discussed the scheme with it. And the Finance Ministry opposed it because it was unrealistic and at variance with ground realities. Ms. Banerjee should have discussed the scheme with both the Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry before formulating and announcing it, the panel said.

The committee also criticised Ms. Banerjee for proposing to fund Rs. 5 lakh crore over the next 10 years from the Accelerated Rail Development Fund (ARDF), which had not been constituted at all. The ARDF was not even proposed when Ms. Banerjee decided to fund Rs. 1 lakh crore through it to execute part of the socially desirable projects.

It was surprising that the Railways did not refer the issue to the Sam Pitroda-led committee of experts set up later. It suggested that a committee be appointed to examine the issue.