Mamata rail budget promise remains on paper, officials look for ‘missing town’

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SummaryOn February 25, 2011, presenting her Railway Budget, then railway minister Mamata Banerjee proposed a new rail line between “two towns of West Bengal” — Karimganj and Katwa.

On February 25, 2011, presenting her Railway Budget, then railway minister Mamata Banerjee proposed a new rail line between “two towns of West Bengal” — Karimganj and Katwa.

Almost two years later, work on it is yet to begin. The reason? Despite many efforts, railway officials have been unable to find the Karimganj town Mamata mentioned.

The Eastern Railway, under whose jurisdiction West Bengal falls, even sought the help of Congress MLA from Katwa Rabindranath Chatterjee — to no avail. “It is a ghost location. Nobody knows where it exists, if it does,” said a senior official.

With all efforts coming to a naught, the proposal is set to be taken out of the Railways’ Blue Book, which details all ongoing and pending projects, and buried in the files.

The proposed rail line between Karimganj and Katwa was budget announcement number 105 or item number 128 in Mamata’s budget proposals.

A letter sent to the Railway Board by then CEO (Construction), Eastern Railway, A K Harit, on June 21, 2011, reads: “The location of Karimganj has not been traced in West Bengal in the vicinity of Katwa despite best efforts.” The same letter also says that two locations called Karimganj had been traced, but one was in Bihar (near Gaya) and the other in Assam.

A senior Railway Board functionary said that because of the “inadequate” due diligence while finalising the budget proposals, a lot of time and money had been needlessly expended on trying to locate the missing town.

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