The decision of railway ministry to suspend two major projects in Bihar for the time being has evoked mixed reaction from technical experts of the railways. They feel this move would cause a setback to railway efforts to develop Bihar as an ancillary zone on the pattern of Bangalore by 2012-2015.
Bihar has the potential to be developed as an ancillary zone of the railways as most of the railway components will be manufactured here in the future barring coach manufacturing factory. The railways has already pooled about Rs 55,000 crore for developing railway network in Bihar, they said.
According to these experts, Bangalore has become a hub of IT centre as it has been developed under a planned manner as ancillary zone. The city has all the required infrastructure like electricity, roads and communication system etc to set up new factories there. Besides, the law and order is also better there for any industry to flourish, they said, adding Bihar has now an ideal atmosphere for making investments in any big plant or project .
The decision of the ministry of railways to set up new factories in north Bihar, including wheel factory, diesel locomotive and electric locomotive factories, and goods wagons and passenger wagons maintenance workshops would improve the socio-economic condition in Bihar, the experts said, adding suspension of these two major projects at this stage would hamper railway development work in the state.
The railways has major factories at Jamalpur, Chitranjan and Varanasi. Barring Varanasi , these other two factories have no ancillary support. That could be the reason the railways decided to develop the entire north Bihar as ancillary zone. At present, the railways has been paying sales and other taxes in crores to other states by way of purchasing rail components and other machineries. Development of Bihar as an ancillary zone will augment the state government s revenue, admitted an ECR official.
According to former railway chief engineer G N Sahay, the wheel and locomotive factories being set up in Bihar will require materials like nuts, bolts and screws in bulks. Besides, these factories will need electrical components too. The railways could fulfil these demands only when several ancillary factories are developed to support the main industries, he said.
Besides, these projects will provide employment to the local people. The railway colonies will come up providing indirect economic support to a large number of people who could earn their livelihood, the experts said.
The railways’ projects in Bihar include wheel factory at Chhapra (Rs 1,417.23crore ), diesel locomotive manufacturing factory at Marhaura in Sararn district (Rs 2,025 crore), coach maintenance workshop at Harnaut (Rs 225 crore), goods wagon repair workshop at Sonepur (Rs 90 crore), DEMU maintenance depot at Sonepur (Rs 15 crore), wagon repair workshop at Samastipur (Rs 33 crore), electric locomotive manufacturing factory at Madhepura (Rs 1,400 crore ) and concrete sleeper factories at Madhepura, Sitamarhi and Chaksikandar ( Rs 15 crore).
Meanwhile, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi urged railway minister Mamata Banerjee not to suspend the two major projects. Instead the railways must provide funds in the ensuing railway budget for these projects, he said.