Kolkata: THE railways have decided to close down eight sub-urban train routes in Bengal unless the state government shoulders 50 per cent of the losses being incurred in operating trains on these “unviable” routes.
The decision has been communicated to state chief secretary Malay De by Eastern Railway’s chief commercial manager SS Gehlot. He has cited the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament as the reason behind the move.
Eastern Railway had sent similar communique to the state government in 2012, 2014, and 2015. The difference this time is that the railways have requested the state government to communicate “expeditiously” whether it will bear the 50 per cent burden.
The eight routes that the railways have decided to close down are ~ Sonarpur-Canning, Baruipur-Namkhana, Ballygunge-Budge Budge, Barasat-Hasnabad, Kalyani-Kalyani Simata, Shantipur-Nabadwipghat, Burdwan-Katwa, and Bhimghar (in Birbhum) –Palasthali (in Jharkhand).
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reacted rather sharply against the decision of the railways and has termed it “an insult” and “discrimination” by the Centre to Bengal.
“These routes were started when I was the railways minister. The move is nothing but a political vendetta. We will not take this lying down,” Banerjee told reporters at state secretariat Nabanna today.
She said that the Centre is already taking away Rs 50,000-crore per annum towards debt repayment and still it wants the state to shoulder 50 per cent burden loss-making train routes. “I strongly object to this.”
Eastern Railway has reacted to CM’s outburst saying that it is “a routine type of letter written to the state government” and that “this type of letters is being also sent to other state governments.”
“Eastern Railway has no such intention of closure of any route and this decision can only be taken by the ministry of railways, not by the Eastern Railway,” an official statement issued this evening reads.