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Posted on Nov 27, 08:06AM | IANS
Terming as "high dose of populism" former railway minister Mamata Banerjee's promise of jobs to those giving their land for projects, Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury Monday said he would take up the matter with the prime minister and the Planning Commission.
"Those who are now occupying responsible posts in the West Bengal government, had promised to give jobs in return for railway land when they were in charge of the railways. This jobs for land policy is the biggest hindrance in the expansion of the railway network," Chowdhury told eporters on the sidelines of an official programme in this town of West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.
Chowdhury said while the railways could ensure jobs in some pockets through special recommendations, "it cannot be the general rule".
"In some places, like Rae Bareli, we have to give jobs. But these have special reasons. But if that is a general rule, then we have to give 1.7 lakh to 2 lakh jobs only in the Eastern Railway zone. And we have 17 such zones.
"So across India, how many jobs have to be given? The rail services have to be wound up then," he said after inaugurating the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Kanchrapara railway workshop.
Asked whether Banerjee's promise of jobs in return for land during her tenure as railway minister smacked of populism, Chowdhury replied: "Of course. It is high dose of populism".
On the pending railway projects in West Bengal, including starting the factories that were announced by Banerjee, Chowdhury said railways played an important role in industrialisation. "We are looking into the possibilities of setting up these factories. But the state government also has to play a positive role on issues like land acquisition.
However, he said one needs to accept the hard reality that there is a difference between desire and capacity. "But nobody should harbour any thought that the railway will deprive Bengal. This is sheer nonsense. Railway never takes such a stand. So this sort of false propaganda is not done," he said, countering Trinamool Congress' allegation.
Regarding the proposed East-West Metro Railway, Chowdhury said talks will be held with the state government which has transferred shares of the project to the railways.