TODAY -

From Minister to Minister

Free Thinker *



A few days back, I ran into Rajkumar ji. He was transmitting copy of his letter written to Vaishnaw ji to the media & others, and he also shared the same with me. The next day I saw extracts of his letter appear in various regional newspapers including India Today NE. Perhaps they missed an important part of the letter that is about Vajpayee ji.

When Atalji was the Prime Minister, he told the Railways that the State capitals in the North Eastern region should be linked with railways. After some time he was informed that connecting all the State capitals in the North East by rail is not commercially viable.

Vajpayee ji still insisted that it should be done - National integration is more important than any other thing. Today, we are implementing what he said – what an idea !

Indian railways should never be privatized – he emphasized- because this is the artery of Indian Nationhood. Services here and there may be given to the private players for efficiency but the artery of unity can’t be given to anyone. Its connectivity instills a kind of intrinsic oneness throughout the country.

Rajkumar ji really wanted to raise certain issues pertaining to the North Eastern region during the discussion on the Demand for Grants of Railways as an innocuous intervention; but it didn’t happen due to continuous ruckus in the highest law-making body of the country, created by most Honourables.

In this Amrit Kal, Vaishnaw ji is prudently looking after the Indian Railways. An outlay of 2.40 lac crore for Railways is the highest since Independence. It will cater to the urgent needs of our railways which is one of the largest networks in the world.

North East comprises eight States. For the economic development of a region – one of the prerequisites is infrastructure. In a land-locked region like the North East, Indian Railways must provide an affordable transport system. Air and Road transports are expensive. So it is common sense that for the speedy economic development of the region, rail connectivity is indispensable – he made a strong point.

We feel encouraged that NE Railways has been allotted Rs 10, 988.80 crore for the fiscal year 2023 -24. This is a huge allocation, perhaps the highest so far since Independence.

During the first NDA regime, then Rail Minister made an announcement in the House, that a coach factory will be set up at Imphal. This may be construed as an assurance. What had happened to that promise ?

Rajkumarji believes this is the right time to set up a coach factory in the North East. Because now we have the technology and we are making the finest coaches in Chennai - very slick and sophisticated. As committed earlier a coach factory may be set up in Manipur so that we cater to the needs of South East Asian countries.

We are told that our coaches are now world-class and very cost-effective. ASEAN countries may start buying coaches from us because ours is now cheaper and better than the Chinese.

Rajkumar ji made a request to the Railways to set up a Railway Recruitment Cell at Imphal as many projects are coming up in and around the region. He expressed his gratitude to the Railways for starting a recruitment cell now.

Moreover, the Imphal-Moreh-Mandalay line (Myanmar ), though futuristic, will play a unique role in connecting with the ASEAN countries. As hinted Imphal will be connected by 2024. Then from Imphal, we may proceed towards Myanmar through Moreh as contemplated. This will be the line for future prosperity.

Once the Indian railways are linked with the rail network of ASEAN countries – the scope for trade and commerce shall be expanded like anything. No doubt NE will become a growth engine of the country, as envisioned by Modi ji & Amit Shah ji.

This is also a part of our ACT East policy. Increasing connectivity with the ASEAN countries – by road or rail or by sea or air should be our priority. Despite having some hiccups we are still trying for a free trade agreement with ASEAN.

Fifty-nine Rail stations in the North East will be developed with international amenities and facilities. This is a welcome step. Like Agthori in Assam, the upcoming Imphal Station should also be made a world-class station because this is the future gateway to the ASEAN rail network via Myanmar.

On the pattern of Railways University, Rajkumar ji made a request to Vaishnaw ji to start a Centre for Geological Study for the entire NE region under Central Manipur University and it will certainly help in the field of soil-rock survey and analysis for construction, upgradation, and expansion of railways.

Many are curious about the much-anticipated Ministry reshuffling of the Government. Some might have speculated that there will be changes. With my nano understanding and naughty intuition, there will be no reshuffling but a micro expansion may take place to accommodate a few big State leaders in Delhi.

Minor reshuffling may occur here too; this is purely my fallible conjecture – not even ‘Heinou Makhong’ whisper; don’t take it seriously; Delhi is already crowded.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on April 03 2023 .



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