NEW DELHI, March 14 � It�s official. The ambitious national railway projects in North-east are likely to suffer further delays with Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, ruing a slash in budgetary support, confirmed that the national projects may get delayed for want of adequate funding.
Presenting his maiden Budget on Wednesday, the Rail Minister lamented that its projected requirement of Rs 45,000 crore has been slashed to Rs 24,000 crore. The national projects in Kashmir and North-east were to be funded out of this, he said, adding that he had projected a requirement of Rs 4,000 crore this fiscal for the national projects.
Although the Railway Minister made the right noises about the urgent need to develop railway infrastructure in remote and border areas, particularly in the face of massive expansion projects undertaken by the neighbouring country, Trivedi�s Budget has little to reflect the concerns he raised.
The Railway Budget had no projection on completion of vital rail projects like the Lumding-Badarpur gauge conversion project, the Bogibeel road-cum-rail project and Rangiya-Murkongselek project.
At least 10 rail projects in the North-eastern region have been declared as national projects, including the three mentioned above. Last year, while presenting her Budget, Mamata Banerjee had said that North-East region was a very sensitive issue and projects were in progress to provide connectivity to State capitals of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.
The proposal to create North-East Region Rail Development Fund has already been initiated to ensure necessary funds for timely completion of national projects in the region.
CPI-M MP Basudev Acharya was quick to notice the anomaly, expressing his surprise that the Railway Minister has pass all the responsibility to the Central Government, absolving itself of all its responsibilities.
�The national concern of safeguarding our borders also needs to be adequately addressed. The geo-political situation on the border arising out of building of state-of-art road and rail network by neighbouring countries requires a matching response,� he said.
The railways must remain in a state of preparedness to move men and machines to border areas. It is therefore, necessary to undertake such projects on priority and ensure adequate government funding, he said.
Besides, there are projects of national importance in the North eastern region, which are crucial to inclusive growth. The Prime Minister Rail Vikas Yojana (PMRVY), as conceptualised by former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, is under formulation. The additional funding assistance required is assessed to be about Rs 5 lakh crore under the PMRVY, he said.
Projecting an investment of Rs 30,000 crore by way of Government support for national projects in the 12th plan, the Minister said he required Rs 7.35 lakh crore.
Meanwhile, at least three new trains are proposed to be introduced and frequency extended. A weekly Kamakhya-Lokmanya Tilak AC Express is proposed to be introduced. A daily Kamakhya-Tezpur Intercity has also been proposed.
Another weekly Dibrugarh-Kolkata and a new Rangiya-Tezpur Passenger train has also been proposed.
Besides services of 55713/55714 New Jalpaiguri-Bongaigaon Passenger is proposed to be extended to Tezpur. The frequency of Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express has been increased to two days from once weekly.
Meanwhile, among the list of new line projects targeted for completion in 2012-2013 included North Bank Rail Link and South Link up to Bogibeel Bridge. At least 41 new lines have been proposed to be completed this fiscal. They include Agartala-Udaipur and Jiribum-Dholakhal.
Among the 84 new line projects sent to Planning Commission for appraisal is the Barpeta Road-Tihu, Dimapur-Tizit lines.
The new line survey to be taken up during 2012-2013 include Furkating-Baghty Valley and Changsari-Tezpur via Sipajhar, Magaldai, Kharupetia, Dalgaon, Silamari, Basimari, Routa and Orang. However, there are no new line projects in North-east for the year 2012-2013.
Among the 19 gauge conversion works proposed to be completed this fiscal is the Rangiya-Rangapara North project and the 17 gauge conversion projects proposed to be completed in 2012-2013 include Rangapara North-North Lakhimpur and Balipara-Bhalukpong lines.
The New Guwahati-Digaru doubling work is proposed for completion this financial year. The Lumding-Hojai patch doubling is proposed for sanction in 2012-2013.
Among the new projects proposed is electrification of Guwahati-Tinsukia via Lunding.