AURANGABAD: Railway activists in Marathwada are worried about the fate of railway network in the region, following the shifting of Suresh Prabhu to the department of commerce and industry.
Piyush Goyal has been named the railway minister during a recent Cabinet reshuffle and the activists feel that they will have to now start all over again to push for railways development in the region.
“Prabhu had started giving us a patient hearing while admitting that injustice had been done to Marathwada in terms of railway development. We had expected him to initiate some concrete steps,” Shivaji Narhare, president of Marathwada Railway Vikas Parishad, said on Wednesday.
“Now, we will have to begin from scratch to draw the attention of the new minister towards the long-standing issues,” said Narhare, a Congressman who had joined the BJP about three years ago with the hope that Marathwada would get justice and see overall progress and development.
Narhare, who hails from Latur, was also appointed member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, but he quit in protest when the railways decided to extend the Mumbai-Latur train to Bidar in Karnataka.
The railways, had reduced the number of coaches, including the general compartment, and extended the train up to Bidar, when Latur itself had a waiting list that crossed 400 mark.
“The railways’ move has forced the people to opt for bus travel that costs them Rs 600 as against Rs 150 in the general compartment while Rs 350 in the sleeper class,” he said.
Narhare said he and other activists have been raising these issues for years together but to no avail. Even a letter signed by 40 MPs supporting the Marathwada demands was submitted to Prabhu.
“We had drawn his attention toward many problems like the region did not have double line and he had agreed to our demands in principle. We also demanded him to attach Marathwada with the Central railways instead of South Central railways,” he said.
According to Narhare, for the last 60 years, Marathwada has a single line of about 1,200 km. Narhare pointed out that Secundarbad zone of the SCR has about 4,000 rail line under its purview and of that 2,700 km is double line with electrification.
He said the Secundrabad zone runs about 150 special trains while only four to five special trains run through Marathwada. Except for Nanded railway station, the condition of other railway stations across Marathwada was in bad shape..
Omprakash Verma, president of the Marathwada Railway Vikas Samiti, said the chief minister should convene a special meeting on the railway issues of Marathwada and make strong recommendations to the Union government before the budgetary session.
“The new minister, Goyal, will take some time to understand the issues and we will have to restart the process of approaching him that we have already been doing for the last 60 years,” he said.