Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that while she endorses the need to further amend the Railway (Amendment) Act, 2008, implementation of current railway projects cannot be stalled till the amendments are made and has to be “adjusted” so as to cause the least inconvenience to people.
Reiterating that the Railway authorities have not acquired land forcibly from anyone and have paid compensation at market rates for land acquired so far, Ms. Banerjee accused the Communist Party of India (Marxist) of carrying out a “smear campaign” against the Railways by fabricating charges of forcible acquisition.
Speaking at a function organised by the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) at Diamond Harbour in the State's South 24 Parganas district, she said: “I was not the Railway Minister when the Railway Act was amended in 2008. Rather, the Left Front was supporting the first UPA Government at the Centre then. Why did not they raise their voice against the amendments at that time?”
The KoPT launched a project to reclaim land at the Sagar Island in the district by depositing silt dredged from the river-beds on the sea-bed. A deep-water port is planned to be set up on the reclaimed land at an estimated investment of Rs.5000 crore in two phases.
Referring to the CPI (M) criticising the publication of Railways' advertisements in newspapers, Ms. Banerjee claimed that contrary to the CPI (M) campaign that she is wasting public money to advance her political agenda, the cost of the advertisements is included in the total budget of the projects.