Sunday, July 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Buddhadeb meets Advani
Seeks review of decision on rly bifurcation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said today that he would speak to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee regarding West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya’s demand for setting up of an experts’ committee for studying the Eastern Railway zone bifurcation issue, which had become a bone of contention between Bihar and West Bengal.

“I have spoken to Mr Nitish Kumar (Railway Minister) yesterday. I will speak to the Prime Minister about it,” Mr Advani told newspersons after a 25-minute meeting with the West Bengal Chief Minister.

Mr Bhattacharyya, who called on the Deputy Prime Minister this afternoon, urged him to set up an experts’ committee to study the entire bifurcation issue of the Kolkata-based Eastern Railway zone as it had resulted in “growing tension” between Bihar and West Bengal.

Emerging out of the meeting, Mr Bhattacharyya said, “this is not a simple problem between two states. The Railway Ministry is planning to re-organise railway division all over the country and similar problems may crop up elsewhere too. The status quo should be maintained.”

Mr Bhattacharyya said he wanted friendly ties with neighbouring states and “bifurcation of the zone will be a wrong decision which can be used by parochial forces to reap benefits”.

A review by an experts’ committee would help protect the interests of the state and also lead to an amicable solution to the problem, the Chief Minister said.

Asked as to what was Mr Advani’s response, Mr Bhattacharyya said he gave a patient hearing.

Maintaining that Centre-state relations were a two-way traffic, the Chief Minister said it was the Railway Ministry which had been insisting on re-organising railway divisions across the country.

Mr Bhattacharyya said he also raised the issue of the sick Haldia Petrochemicals and the suspension of flight by Dutch Airlines KLM to Kolkata and sought the Centre’s intervention. He also raised the problems pertaining to coal mines in the state.

On Haldia Petrochemicals, Mr Advani said he had spoken to Petroleum Minister Ram Naik who “is dealing with the matter” and also to Minister of State for Coal Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Regarding the move of the KLM to suspend flights to Kolkata, Mr Advani said he would speak to Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain “on why some airlines are leaving”.

Meanwhile, the CPM demanded a review of the government’s decision to bifurcate Eastern Railway and create a new zone — East-Central Railway — saying that the decision would adversely affect the administrative and functional efficiency.

“A comprehensive review of the decision should be undertaken and any future move should be taken only after a broad and thorough consultation,” the CPM Politburo said in a statement here.

Stressing that this should not be seen as a Bihar versus Bengal issue, the Left party said the consultation should be initiated by the Inter-State Council.

“Until such discussion and a consequent decision is taken, no unilateral and ad hoc proposals should be implemented,” it added.


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