TMC threatens massive agitation over rail route closure letter

TMC threatens massive agitation over rail route closure letter

The Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal has threatened to launch a massive agitation and has decided to hit the streets if the Railways does not withdraw a letter where it has proposed to shut down eight "commercially unviable" local train routes in the state.

In its protest move, the Trinamool Congress has also got its bete noire the Left Front, by its side.

In a recent letter to state Chief Secretary Moloy De, Chief Commercial Manager of Eastern Railway S S Gehlot had informed the state government about the Railways' intention to close eight local train routes.

The eight routes are the Sonarpur to Canning, Shantipur to Nabadwipghat, Barasat to Hasnabad, Kalyani to Kalyani Simanta, Ballygunge to Budge Budge, Baruipur to Namkhana, Burdwan to Katwa and Bhimghar to Palasthali route.

In his communication, Gehlot cited letters to the state government by his predecessors, and had said, "…Accordingly, my predecessor had sought the state government's consent for closure of the line(s) referred… In case, however, these are to be retained in public interest, state government's agreement was requested for sharing the burden of loss of working lines at least in the 50:50 ratio, with Eastern Railway."

Reacting strongly to the Railway's letter, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already blamed the BJP-ruled government at the Centre for conspiring against the people of the state and termed the move the Centre's strong-arm tactic.

The Railways have, however, has reacted quickly and has been in a damage-control mode.

In a statement, it has said, "They (the Railways) have no such intention to close any route and the communication was only a routine matter, which is part of the action taken report before every budget as per directions of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament. Earlier also such letters were sent and these are sent to other state government too. The decision can only be taken by the Ministry of Railways, not by the Eastern Railway."

But, the  TMC is in no mood to buy the argument.

"It is political vendetta by the BJP and if the Railways do not withdraw the letter by January 31, we will take to the streets and launch a massive statewide agitation from February onwards. It is simply unfortunate that the Railways took such an arbitrary decision without once consulting the state government...,"  said state Education Minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

CPM MLA and the party's leader in the state Assembly Sujan Chakraborty has also written to the state government  urging the administration  to take steps in reversing the Railways' decision to stop the eight local train routes.

"This is undemocratic and is completely against the social responsibilities of the central government. We have to protest this unitedly," said Chakraborty.

 

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