Thursday, July 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Walkout by Trinamool, Left MPs
Oppose railway bifurcation move
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
Four Left MPs joined their Trinamool Congress counterpart in walking out of a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Railways over the contentious issue of bifurcation of Eastern Railway.

Demanding the immediate withdrawal of the notification on the bifurcation and rethinking on the issue, the MPs said the demand should not be viewed as a “Bengal versus Bihar” issue.

Four Left MPs — Mr Basudev Acharya, Mr Anil Basu (CPM), Mr Amar Roy Pradhan (All-India Forward Bloc) and Mr Jorchin Baxla (RSP) — walked out after categorically opposing the move on the bifurcation. Before walking out, Mr Sudip Bandhopadhyay of the Trinamool Congress told Railway Minister Nitish Kumar that the bifurcation of Eastern Railway was unjust to West Bengal.

Mr Pradhan told TNS that although the agenda of the meeting was “State Governments and Private Funding for the Execution of Important Railway Projects”, the Left parties felt that the serious nature of the issue necessitated a discussion.

Mr Pradhan said he told the Railway Minister that the move to have the new East Central Railway with Hajipur as the zonal headquarters would result in bifurcation of North-East Railway and North-East Frontier Railway.

“At present, Darjeeling is under NF Railway. It will go under the Eastern middle railway of Hajipur. It is not the question of Bihar versus Bengal. Not only this, how can the ministry facing financial constraint afford to have two new zones which is likely to cost Rs 4000 crore?’’ he said.

Initiating the debate on the issue of bifurcation, CPM MP Basudev Acharya said the notification to create a East-Central zone after the Budget session was a political decision.

The Railway Minister told members that the aforesaid decision was in line with the Union Cabinet’s approval in 1996 and 1998 for the creation of new zones. He said the Cabinet had asked the Railway Ministry to finalise the territorial jurisdictions of the new zones. The issue had been hanging fire for quite some time and had figured in Parliament on several occasions.

Emphasising that the decision was in no way state-centric, he said the new East-Central Railway with Hajipur as headquarters would spread to Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

After reorganisation, Eastern Railway will have its jurisdiction in West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. “It is the duty and concern of the Ministry of Railways to look after the interests of all railway zones working under it,” he said.

Referring to the creation of five other proposed zones, Mr Nitish Kumar informed the committee that the Railway Board was deliberating on the territorial jurisdiction and other administrative matters pertaining to these zones. 

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