He went as quietly as he came. Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Mukul Roy will probably be remembered as one of the most subdued Railway Ministers during his five-month tenure.

With the Trinamool Congress Ministers resigning from the Union Cabinet on Friday, speculation is rife on who will replace him.

While it is clear that Congress may keep the portfolio, the DMK is said to be keen on it. But, it may not be easy to snatch the portfolio from Congress, as many big-ticket projects are in the pipeline.

PROJECT PUSH

Among the big tickets projects waiting to be awarded right from the UPA-I days are the locomotive factory projects in Bihar at Madhepura and Marhowra. The last meeting of the short-listed bidders took place on December 22, 2011.

The diesel locomotive factory project, which had seen hectic lobbying between two American firms – GE and EMD – is likely to get a push if the Congress keeps the portfolio. Even the US President Barack Obama had referred to this locomotive tender during his visit to India in 2010.

TARIFF REFORM

“We hope whoever walks in has the wherewithal to bring in some reforms in the tariff structure,” said sources in the Railways. In this Budget, a proposal to link passenger fares with input costs had been proposed.

The only silver lining for the Railways, unlike other sectors where many scams were unearthed, is that there has been no such blot under the TMC regime.

BENGAL PROJECTS

Meanwhile, it would be interesting to see the fate of many projects announced for West Bengal by the Trinamool Congress Ministers – such as Dankuni loco components factory, Kachrapara coach factory and Coochbehar rail factory.

The extension of Eastern Rail Freight Corridor to Dankuni in West Bengal from Sonnagar in Bihar – to be undertaken on public-private partnership basis – may also be jeopardised.

As also, the ambitious Kolkata Metro expansion project, recently taken over by the Railways from the Urban Development Ministry.

mamuni.das@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 21, 2012)
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