In an attempt to bring pressure on the Central Government to make the special railway zone with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters that was promised to the State in the A.P. Bifurcation Act a reality, an all-party rountable organsied here on Sunday took an unanimous decision that all political parties would come under one roof to lay a roadmap for the cause.
The meeting was organised by the TDP and led by HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao. Addressing the meet, Uttarandhra Charcha Vedika (UCV) convener and former Minister Konathala Ramakrishna said that not only political parties, but also trade unions, student unions, Joint Action Committees and people in general must come forward to undertake a sustained agitation.
‘Still a viable option’
Claiming that the formation of the special railway zone is still a viable option and it is being delayed by the Central Government deliberately, Mr. Ramakrishna said,“If Visakhapatnam does not qualify for the promised railway zone, then the zones set up in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh come no where close to qualifying. It’s a political decision and purposefully delayed. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu should discuss the matter with his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik first and then take it up with the Centre.” Moderating the discussion, Mr. Ganta Srinivasa Rao said that the BJP had promised the Special Railway Zone in its manifesto for 2014 elections but it has reneged on the promise. Four years has passed but to no avail,” he said.
Unleashing a scathing attack on the BJP, he said, “The BJP-led NDA Government has not granted the railway zone, went back on the Special Category Status, have not released the desired funds for the Central institutes and have not come up with the plans for the Dugarajapatnam port in Nellore or steel plant in Kadapa.”
Pendurthi MLA Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy said that the railway zone was no longer a political movement, but a people’s movement. Visakhapatnam (South) MLA Vasupalli Ganesh urged the 22,000 and odd Telugu speaking employees of East Coast Railway to take up the issue. “Why are the employees keeping quiet? They should take it up as the issue pertains to the future of their children and for the people of this region,” he said.
Mentioning the statistics, he said, “Visakhapatnam division contributes more than ₹7,000 crore to the Railways’ kitty. It has railway lines in 15,000 km and more than 750 acres of vacant land, when the minimum basic criteria for the railway zone is 6,500 km of railway lines and 200 acre of land.”
MLA Panchakarla Ramesh Babu, AP NGOA president P. Ashok Babu and others spoke.