BENGAL POLITICS: Fair bird Mamata promises to return – dove or hawk ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 13: Mamata Banerjee today said she was not a “migratory bird”, indicating that she was not a fair weather friend and would return to north Bengal to see the progress of the projects she launched for the region this morning.
“I am not a seasonal or migratory bird and will be back soon to fulfil my commitments, and to start projects which are still pending,” the railway minister told a gathering of around 10,000 people at the Outdoor Railway Stadium in New Jalpaiguri Railway Colony. She launched projects to be taken up by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) from the stadium, which was also opened by her today.
The minister also inaugurated escalators at New Jalpaiguri — the first such facility at any surface station in Bengal — and laid the foundation for the railway axle factory at the same station.
Announcing Rs 300 crore for the factory, Mamata said: “We expect the construction of the factory to commence soon as 100 acres of land have already been earmarked for the project. Our plan is to develop the axle factory either in association with SAIL or through a partnership with any reputed private firm. The factory will generate employment and will bring in an overwhelming change in the economy of Siliguri and adjoining areas and north Bengal as a whole.”
She asked Keshav Chandra, the general manager of the NFR, to scout for firms that could establish units on unused railway land at NJP for the production of ancillary parts necessary for automobile industry. A similar project had been announced earlier for Shalimar station near Calcutta, but is yet to take off.
“We have vast tracts of unused land in and around NJP and our idea is to develop the station. I will ask the GM (Chandra) to take the initiative and find companies which can generate employment in the region,” said the minister.
Mamata announced four new trains — three locals and one intercity — and opened the new building of Kamakhya railway station near Guwahati. She also inaugurated 44 computerised passenger reservation centres and 141 unreserved ticket centres and upgraded 65 unmanned level crossings to ones that will be manned.
The minister also laid foundations for DEMU car shed at Siliguri Junction station, multi-functional complexes at Alipurduar Junction, Darjeeling, Madarihat and New Mal Junction stations and an RPSF (Railway Protection Special Force) centre, multi-disciplinary training unit for railway forces and a station building at New Cooch Behar. She launched the conversion of meter gauge tracks on New Changrabandha-Changrabandha and New Mal-Mainaguri Road sections to broad gauges as well.
The minister also announced Rs 10 lakh for Sushil Kumar, a railway employee who had secured first position at the world wrestling championship in Moscow recently.
Ghani hospital tribute follows station snub – playing the name game to the satisfaction of all ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, Sept. 13: The railway hospital in Malda will be named after A.B.A Ghani Khan Chowdhury, Mamata Banerjee today announced here while rejecting local Congress leaders’ plea for naming the station after the late Union minister.
“Whenever I come to Malda I miss Barkatda’s presence. He had a fondness for me. He was one of them whom I respect,” Mamata said at the inauguration of the second railway bridge here.
The Congress leaders gathered at the programme had wanted Malda Town station to be named after Ghani Khan who was also a railway minister. Mamata, however, rejected the appeal. “That is not possible at the moment, but I am naming the railway hospital after Barkatda,” she said drawing loud cheers from her supporters.
The railways will spend Rs 3 crore to upgrade the railway hospital here to a multipurpose one with a nursing college.
Mamata said she had been given some proposal by (Trinamul leader) Sabitri Mitra and Mausam Noor (Congress MP from Malda North).
She said she would look into the proposals with utmost priority.
“I am announcing some of them today — computerised reservation will begin very soon at Old Malda station, and from now on, Padatik Express will stop at Malda as will the New Jalpaiguri-Digha Express,” she said. The Farakka-Nabadwip train will now start from Malda.
“There was a tremendous need for a second railway bridge across the Mahananda here as many trains had to be detained because of that. From now on, this will not happen. The new bridge will allow 10 pairs of trains to move without delays,” Mamata said.
The minister announced that the surveys from Balurghat to Hili and from Buniadpur to Kaliaganj had been completed.
Pointing out that Malda as a station is very important for north Bengal, she said she would see to it that it was modernised and connected to all corners of the country.
The programme held on the grounds adjacent to the station saw the presence of both Congress MPs from Malda Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury and Mausam.
However, three hours before Mamata’s arrival in town, Abu Hashem told reporters that he was tired of sending proposals to the minister.
“I am tired of making requests to her regarding development of the railways in the Malda division. She had shown little respects for my requests,” Abu Hashem said and added that he would not make any further requests to Mamata even if he came face to face with her today.
Abu Hashem claimed that the development work in Malda division had come to an end with the demise of his elder brother, Ghani Khan.
“I had submitted some suggestions personally to Mamata for development in this division through her personal secretary. But not a single demand had been fulfilled,” the Congress MP alleged.
“The Padatik Express has been passing through Malda station. But it has no halt here. Even there is no facility to book tickets for the train from Malda,” he said.
The MP said he had requested the railway minister to introduce a pair of Delhi-Malda, Mangalore-Malda and Siliguri-Malda express trains and also asked for a Rajdhani Express from here.
Rivals play bridge politics – but no bridges in Darjeeling or Dooars ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY DEBASHIS CHATTOPADHYAY
Bhangar, Sept. 13: The political rivals in Bengal are desperate to “bridge” the gap with the people ahead of the Assembly elections next year.
A bridge over a canal in South 24-Parganas’ Bhangar has been inaugurated twice — once by the Trinamul Congress yesterday and again today by the CPM. Both parties claimed they had the “right” to inaugurate the bridge over the Bagjola canal in Sonpur.
While Trinamul leaders said the party-run zilla parishad had spent Rs 98 lakh on the construction of the 7.5-metre-long bridge, the CPM said the public works department had planned the bridge and spent Rs 4.65 crore.
Yesterday, South 24-Parganas sabhadhipati Shamima Sheikh and Bhangar legislator Arabul Islam, both from Trinamul, inaugurated the bridge. Around 10,000 people attended the programme, its venue decked with Trinamul flags and posters.
“The construction of the bridge was complete. So we opened it. We are the elected representatives of the region. So we have the right to inaugurate the bridge a day before the CPM,” Sheikh said.
Today, the same scene repeated itself, only the protagonists were different and CPM flags and banners had replaced those of Trinamul’s. A similar number of people attended today’s “official” inauguration.
“It is strange that a bridge is being inaugurated twice,” land and land reforms minister Abdul Rezzak Mollah said at the programme. PWD minister Kshiti Goswami opened the bridge.
Mollah began his speech by thanking Trinamul for “cooperating in removing some shops so that the bridge could be constructed”. Then he launched into a tirade.
“Trinamul went ahead and opened the bridge. They used improper language during their programme. This is not right. The Trinamul leaders claimed they had not been invited to our inauguration ceremony. But the PWD minister has told me that not only were they invited, the local MLA’s name has been inscribed on the inauguration stone of the bridge,” Mollah said.
CPM state secretary Biman Bose said in Calcutta: “The Trinamul-run zilla parishad should not have inaugurated a bridge that has been constructed by the state’s public works department. The move smacks of bad taste.”