45 years later, West Bengal continues to provide land for the railway project | India News
NEW DELHI: More than 45 years after being sanctioned, a 75 km railway project in West Bengal is still delayed due to lack of land. Only a 43 km stretch of the Howrah-Amta and Bargachia-Champadanga project has been commissioned during this period and the railways have not set a new schedule for the remaining stretch due to uncertainty over land acquisition by the state government.
Officials from the railway ministry said the project was modified 10-12 years ago to include three more small sections, bringing the total length of the project to 110 km, with the aim of meeting the requirement of local suburban traffic.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said his ministry has written several letters to successive Left and TMC governments in the state to speed up the availability of land, but there has been little progress.
The sources said that while the 43-kilometer stretch between Howrah and Amta has been operational, the 32-kilometer stretch from Bargachia to Champadanga has been delayed “because the Bengal government has not acquired land.” One of the officials said: “Now that the cost of land has multiplied, the project can only continue if the Bengal government provides land free of charge according to the memorandum of understanding executed between the railways and the state in 1973.” The sections that were added to the project have also been delayed due to the non-acquisition of land by the state.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Goyal said there is no shortage of funds to undertake projects. “Now, we have decided to start a project only after we have the required land for it. We have identified critical and supercritical projects that would be completed in a focused manner,” he said.