March 13, 2010

"Imaginary" Railway Budget, promised for West Bengal nothing in reality

New Delhi, 11th March: Participating in the Rajya Sabha on the discussion on general budget CPI(M) MP Shyamal Chakrbaorty said that at the outset he would like to give two examples of the railway safety measures. One is the answer to the question raised by an hon. Member of this House. Sir, the MoS of the Railways replied that about 41000 vacancies are existing in the categories deputed primarily for maintenance of tracks. So, only in the safety category, 41000 vacancies are still there.

He said, he would like to give another example. It was a statement by P.R. Menon, the General Secretary of the National Railway Mazdoor Union. Mr. Menon does not belong to any Left political party and he says, "The workmen are not getting proper equipment and gears. A number of workers carrying out repairs of OHT lines are electrocuted because they are forced to work without isolating the connections." So, these two instances are enough to explain the situation prevailing in the Railway department, particularly on safety measures.

Now, an impression has been created throughout India that the two consecutive Budgets have given so many projects to West Bengal. Actually, at face value, it appears so. But, what is the real situation?

He said, in the last year's Budget, 375 railway stations were announced which were to be upgraded as model stations. This year also, some new railway stations have been added. There was a name in that list. The name of the station was Nanur. I wrote a letter raising a question to the Railway Department as to where the Nanur railway station is situated. The MoS of the Railways replied that there is no such station by the name of Nanur in the Indian Railways network.

At this point BRINDA KARAT: said where is the Railway Minister? She should have been here.

Shymal Chakrbaorty said, Similarly, she recently announced in the Budget paper that names of two metro stations would be changed. One station would be named after the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in place of Rashbehari and the second one would be named after Mother Teresa in place of Park Circus. I tried to search as to where those metro stations were. But, there are no metro stations by the name of Rashbehari or Park Circus. So were the announcements.

Eighteen medical and nursing colleges were announced in the Railway Budget. But, not a single foundation stone has been laid for the colleges till this time. Sir, I have been given only seven minutes. How can I explain all these things? Now I come to the question of hawkers. She had assured in her Budget Speech that hawkers would be given medical insurance. It is a very good proposal. But, reality is that the railway hawkers have been fighting for too long for getting identity cards and licences. They have been deprived; they have been denied. Not only that. They have been subjected to torture by the Railway Police.

A fine of Rs.2000 or Rs.4000 was also imposed When the railway officers were asked why they were doing all these things, they replied: "It is the order from the highest authority!" Sir, how will the hawkers be identified if there is no identity card issued to them? If they are not allowed to hawk inside the train, how will it be possible?

Charboarty said that, take the example of Purulia Power Project. In the last year's Budget, it was announced that a 1,000 megawatt thermal power project would be set up in Purulia in collaboration with NTPC. One year has lapsed. Not an inch of work has been done there! Not only that; the NTPC the major partner has been withdrawn from that Project!

He said, coming to the Naihati Railway Project over the River Ganges, it was opened with much fanfare. But what is the reality? That work has been under construction for the last few years. Once there was a foundation stone laid by the hon. Minister. Now, all the foundation stone work has been completed. Only the railway line had to be installed there. Now, again, replacing that foundation stone, a new foundation stone has been laid! That is also one of the changes made! Now, she is saying about the Chittaranjan Locomotive Factory that manufactures railway engines.

He said when she was a Minister in the NDA Government, 3,000 posts were abolished. Still 2,500 posts are lying vacant. Orders were placed for 230 railway engines, but they could not complete them. They have completed only 205! The workmen are not there. And 50 per cent of that work is outsourced., She announced in the Budget that Burn Standard and Brethwiett would be taken over by the Railways. This year, in the Budget, not a single line has been written about that nor have any steps been taken! About Basumati Printing Press, she has made an open statement that she will take over it. When it was clear that "take over" means not only 'assets' but the 'liabilities' also, 'liabilities' of the employees are also to be taken. But, now,she is keeping mum! So, all these things are going on. She has now set up three Committees. In the name of 'passenger amenities', three Committees have been constituted. There is no IAS Officer; no IPS Officer; no technical person! But who are there? A painter is the Chairman! A theatre worker is the Chairman! A quiz master is the Chairman! They are making Rs.50,000/- per month. And free railway pass, free car; everything is given. What is the task of this Committee? Cleaning the bathrooms! This is the task. Some Committee members were also appointed by those three. Their only qualification is that they supported her in the last Parliament election! This is the only qualification! Huge expenses are being spent. All these expenses in railway accountAn innovative task has been taken by her; that is, changing the colour of all the railway stations! It was red. Because she does not like 'red'Like some creatures,......(Interruptions)... She is changing the colourNow, she is changing the colour of the stations. So, the colour of all the stations is going to be changed.

He said that Congress Members should be ready to hear slogans to change the colour of the Red Fort from red to green.

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