Uttarakhand neglected in railway budget: people sore

Railway budget again dashes hopes for news lines, trains for Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : It has been happening for over quite some years now, regardless of whether it is a UPA or NDA government at the centre. There is a lot of hype and expectations soar whenever the railway budget is in the offing that may be there will be something for Uttarakhand. But as the railway minister finishes his budget speech, there is frustration amongst the people of this small hill state. And this year was no exception.

Despite the state having returned all BJP candidates to Lok Sabha the general feeling was that the party high command will take the expectations of the people into confidence and the MPs will influence upon their leaders in general and the prime minister and railway minister in particular that the state must be given something for the love and respect its people have shown at the hustings. But this has not been the case, which is perhaps all the more reason for the all prevailing resentment.

The Congress party, which is in power in the state showed its resentment and took out its frustration by burning an effigy of the railway minister at the Dun railway station. And chief minister Harish Rawat who has personally met the railway minister and requested him to keep the state’s genuine needs into consideration in the budget reacted strongly, terming the railway budget as hopeless and anti-development.

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Obviously when the small hill state had been ignored almost completely and most of the key railway projects that have been pending since long again being left in the lurch, it was not surprising that the reaction from all, except the BJP leaders, was against the NDA government in general and the railway minister in particular. More so, when the state had voted for the BJP candidates in all the five parliamentary constituencies in the last Lok Sabha elections and they had won convincingly.

This was perhaps why media adviser to the chief minister, Surendra Kumar said that all the five BJP MPs of the state should resign from parliament and show their resentment to the party high command at the sheer neglect of this small hill state, which has seen no development in the railways ever since independence. “It is very obvious that the five BJP MPs failed to convince the ralway minister on the genuine needs of Uttarakhand”, he added.

There were hopes that the railway station of the state capital, Uttarakhand would be expanded as per its requirements as it has limited platforms which too are very small in length and cannot accommodate a train with 13 coaches. Expansion of the railways in the state would have given a much needed fillip to the industry and tourism sectors, both of which would have played a key role in the economic development of this small hill state.

The only solace that the people can get, if at all, is that Haridwar station has been included in the stations that will get a face lift because of the religious importance of this holy city that is visited by lakhs of pilgrims annually, specially at the important bathing dates. And also that a sum of Rs 160 crores has been earmarked for the Rishikesh-Karanprayag railway line, a sum which could be utilized for acquisition of land along the proposed railway line.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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