New Delhi : The Railways on Saturday refuted the claims of the Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien that West Bengal was ignored in allocation of Railway budget and said that the national transporter has got highest ever allocation of Rs 6,536 crore for infrastructure and safety projects in the state.
O’Brien had said, “Last year 31 railways projects were shelved in West Bengal, all started by Mamata Banerjee. Now, suddenly it’s winter or may be some other reason, I don’t know, you said you are giving Bengal some more money this year. Is something happening in April? Look at the total which was supposed to be given to the state and how much of that has been given,” Brian had said.
A senior railway ministry official said that Budget allocation for infrastructure and safety projects in West Bengal 2021-22 is Rs 6,636 crore which is highest ever and this is 26 per cent higher than last year and 51 per cent higher than the average allocation during 2009-14.
“Out of 53 ongoing projects in West Bengal, in 34 projects token allotments have been done. These projects (even as old as 1974-75) are affected by delays in land acquisition by state government and local issues,” the official said.
The ministry official said that the Railways still undertake majority of the projects completely funded by the Centre or through extra budgetary resources Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) with states along with various participative models have been developed to augment more resources in rail sector.
The official added that the SPVs with states lead to greater participation of states in financing and decision making process for railway projects.
The official further said that the Pink Book of Railways which was published on February 3 gives details of the allotments for the West Bengal.
The official said, “Railways can’t handle the burden of more unremunerative projects. However, in order to meet the aspirations of public, new avenues have been created in the form of state joint ventures.”
He said that participating states have been given the freedom to choose projects and make them bankable by private support, free land offers or VGF.
“Railway Ministry is supporting these projects to the extent possible. Even otherwise, when faced with unremunerative projects, the Railways is considering offers of free land and 50 per cent share of cost of project,” the official added.