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Decorative posts in Rlys to go

Saibal Gupta, Kolkata, Nov 15, 2012, DHNS: 1:04 IST

Minister slams Mamata for wasting scarce funds

Known to be a sharp critic of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Congress leader and MoS for Railways Adhir Chowdhury is all set to dissolve the decorative posts which were constituted during her tenure as the Railway Minister.

“The Railways is not a dumping ground for painters and poets. The ministry is facing an acute shortage of funds, thanks to the leaders who led the ministry earlier. It is useless to maintain such ceremonial posts only to reward or please some people,” Adhir Chowdhury told Deccan Herald over phone.

Banerjee, allegedly in a bid to seek intellectual support for the Trinamool, formed several expert committees including Railway Passenger Amenities Committee (RPAC) and Railway Heritage and Culture Committee (RHCC), and the committees were packed with painters, poets and academics.

While the RPAC is headed by painter Shuvaprasanna and has fellow painter Samir Aich, singer Pallab Kirtaniya and film directors Gautam Ghose and Haranath Chakraborty as members, the RHCC is chaired by theatre personality Saoli Mitra and has poet Joy Goswami and thespians Bibhas Chakraborty and Arpita Ghosh as members.

Though the move evoked widespread criticism from all sections of society, an unfazed Banerjee showered them with honorarium, perks and benefits. These decorative committees, with virtually no work, continued to function even after she quit the ministry.
Apart from perks which include free travel, food and lodging facilities while on official tours, the head of the committee is paid an honorarium of Rs 50,000 while the members are given Rs 25,000 each.

“Maintaining the railways is a huge task. Will these intellectuals draw pictures, write poems or perform plays inside railway coaches? Only those who have knowledge of the railways should be allowed to work here. This is not the proper forum to rehabilitate civil society members close to leaders who held the ministry earlier,” Chowdhury added.
“I will step down from the committee myself. We never begged the ministry to accommodate us,” said Samir Aich.

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