After being doused with largesse for three consecutive railway budgets from 2010 to 2012, West Bengal appears to have slid down the priority list in the Railway Budget 2013 tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
It only serves to indicate that the many projects for the State, at a time when the Railway Ministry was under a leader of the Trinamool Congress, were announced with the motive of reaping political dividends in the State.
In sharp contrast, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal briefly touched upon only two projects relating to Kolkata Metro, which had been announced by former Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee, besides the introduction of new MEMU (Mainline Electrical Multiple Units) services and the setting up of a centre for skill development in railway-related works in the State.
“Construction of the Metro system in Kolkata from Dum Dum to Noapara is scheduled to be completed by March 2013. The construction of the East-West Corridor in Kolkata, which is under way, will be taken forward,” Mr. Bansal said, keeping silent on certain projects related to the city’s Metro, which had been announced during the past years.
Ms. Banerjee and her party colleague and successor in the Railway Ministry, Dinesh Trivedi, had announced a number of Metro projects, such as connecting BBD Bagh in the city to Joka in the South 24 Parganas district, and extending Metro services from Dum Dum to Barrackpore via Dakshineswar on the northern outskirts of the city.
Of the Rs. 11,500 crore that will be required for the ongoing projects of the Kolkata Metro, an allocation of merely Rs. 629 crore has been made by the Ministry in this Budget, said an official of the Kolkata Metro.
In 2011, Rs. 6,000 crore was allocated for the same projects, followed by an allocation of Rs. 4,000 crore in 2012. The Railway Minister, on both the occasions, belonged to the Trinamool Congress.
Even though only Rs. 700 crore was spent on the Kolkata Metro projects in 2011 and Rs. 800 crore in 2012, the meagre allocations to these projects, which are facing land acquisition problems, have presented questions on their feasibility.