NEW DELHI, March 14 � Divided along party lines, the MPs of the North-East were unhappy with the Railway Budget expressing apprehension that the new distance-based fare structure would hit the North-East the hardest.
When Arunachal Pradesh MP Ninong Ering was asked for his reactions to the Railway Budget by a TV correspondent, soon after the Railway Budget was presented, he asked the reporter whether he was sure. �You are asking me about railway services and I come from a State which does not even have a single rail station.�
The response stumped the correspondent, but the sombre mood of MPs of the North-East reflected their concern. Barring Assam, Tripura and Dimapur in Nagaland, the State capitals of the North-East are yet to see a railhead.
In a guarded comment, Minister Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Paban Singh Ghatowar said that several of the projects proposed to the Railway Ministry have been accepted though he said they were hoping for more projects.
The Ministry DoNER had requested the Railway Ministry to improve rail connectivity and railway network in the North-East. �We were hopeful of some more projects but perhaps because of resource crunch they could be taken up,� he said.
Pankaj Bora of Congress said that they have no alternative but to keep pursuing with the Railways. Most of the projects, we had proposed like the Superfast Guwahati-Mumbai, Guwahati- Chennai have been ignored.
There are no proposals either on double tracks or electrifications, he said, adding that barring a few infrastructure projects, others have been left out.
Describing the Railway Budget as most disappointing general secretary of North East MPs� Forum, Biren Baishya demanded a roll-back of the fare hike. This is a peculiar situation because of the proposal to introduce, Kilometer-wise fare structure, the people of North-East may end up paying the most because distance-wise the Region is far from most of the metros including the national capital.
The burden on the people of the North-East is going to the highest, he observed.
The Budget has also failed to address the demands like electrification of tracks, doubling, early completion of Bogibeel Bridge, the Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion projects, Baishya said.
Echoing Baihsya, AGP MP Kumar Deepak said passengers of Assam would be hit the most. The Kankyakumari-Guwahati Express is the longest running passenger in terms of distance. He also added that most of the pending demands have been ignored yet again.