The Telangana government has urged Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to ensure adequate budgetary allocations to state railway projects in the Union Budget.
In a letter to the Union Minister, state Industries and Commerce Minister K.T. Rama Rao highlighted severe discrimination being meted out to Telangana in budget allocation to various Railway projects.
KTR, as the state minister is popularly known, stated that the Union government has been ignoring repeated pleas from the state government to sanction funds for several important ongoing and proposed projects in the state. “The discrimination in the railway sector is more blatant and visible and the state has been getting a raw deal in every budget presented by the NDA government,” he wrote.
He pointed out that the 13th Schedule of the AP State Reorganisation Act clearly states that the Indian Railways shall, within six months from the appointed day, examine the feasibility of establishing a Rail Coach Factory in the successor State of Telangana and improve rail connectivity in the state and take an expeditious decision thereon.
However, despite repeated appeals from the State government, the Union government has neither initiated any measure to establish a Rail Coach Factory in Kazipet nor granted any new major infrastructure project to improve rail connectivity in the state.
KTR wrote that Telangana contributes substantially to the revenues of South Central Railway (both freight and passenger). “The state is a crucial link between North and South India and is home to the most important Railway junctions – Secunderabad & Kazipet – in our country. Being a landlocked state, Telangana is heavily dependent on Railway infrastructure for the transportation of goods and passengers. The addition of new Railway infrastructure will be a big boost to the state’s growth story. But the Union government is found wanting when it comes to extending necessary assistance to develop new transport infrastructure in Telangana,” he said.
The minister said that it is appalling to note that in the past eight years, just a little over 100 km of railway track has been laid in Telangana. The state has a paltry 3 per cent of the total railway lines in the country out of which about 57 percent are single lanes. “This lack of critical infra is depriving Telangana of any new trains. It is disheartening to note that in the past eight years, South Central Railway has launched only one new train from the capital city – Lingampally-Vijayawada Intercity Express.”
KTR pointed out that the current NDA Government has not grounded a single new Railway line in Telangana in the past eight years. Even the progress of joint venture railway projects taken up with the state government is also painfully slow.
The Union Minister was told that while the Union government spent just Rs 1,100 crore on ongoing Railway projects in the state, the state government has spent Rs 1,904 crore as its share. Several projects, which were cleared by earlier governments were shelved by the current Union government. Many other projects for which survey reports are submitted long back have also not moved an inch.
KTR mentioned high-priority project proposals submitted years ago to the Railway Board and demanded that they be sanctioned.
He said that earlier, the South Central Railways used to convene a meeting of all Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs from the region and accept proposals for new Railway projects and trains. Strangely, even that convention has been done away with this year, he added.