Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sonia opens Lalganj coach factory

RAE BARELI, November 8, 2012

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday inaugurated the Rail Coach Factory at Lalganj in her Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency, flagging off 20 air-conditioned coaches assembled at the plant that had faced several hurdles since the foundation was laid.

"When the foundation stone was laid, some persons spread rumours, but the factory has been built within a short time," she said, expressing satisfaction at the completion of the project in time.

Ms. Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to her constituency, handed over letters of appointment for Group D jobs in the factory to 14 persons whose land was acquired for the project. Land belonging to 1,434 farmers and other individuals had been acquired for the factory built on 541 hectares. Besides compensation for the land, the Railways had assured the landowners of jobs to one person of each family.

Mulayam Singh was the Chief Minister when the foundation was laid in February 2007. In 2008, the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party regime cancelled the land deed, bringing the construction to a halt. On a public interest litigation petition, the Allahabad High Court allowed the project to proceed. In January 2009, the Railways signed a 99-year land lease agreement with the State government.

Ms. Gandhi, visiting her constituency for the first time after the Congress was routed in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections early this year, did not mention either Ms. Mayawati or Mr. Mulayam Singh in her short address.

Stating that the Railways played an important role in India's development, Ms. Gandhi promised steps for investments to improve railway security.

Ms. Gandhi said the Rae Bareli factory — the third of its kind, after the Integral Coach Factory, Perambur, Tamil Nadu, and the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Punjab — would spur growth in the region, facilitating small-scale units to be set up and creating jobs for the youth. "The total cost of the project is Rs. 2,500 crore, and Rs. 800 crore has already been invested…"

She also laid the foundation for a multi-functional complex and the doubling of the 65-km Uttaratiya-Rae Bareli line. She announced that a new line would be laid between Rae Bareli, Unchahar and Amethi, and that the Mughalsarai-Unchahar line would be electrified.

Railway Minister Pawan Kuman Bansal said the factory would become fully operational in the next year and a half. Initially, it would turn out 1,000 coaches a year, and the capacity would gradually be ramped up to 3,000. Following her arrival at the Fursatganj airport, Ms. Gandhi visited the Footwear Design Institute. Later in the day on Wednesday, she addressed the second convocation of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Rae Bareli.

While her son Rahul Gandhi will be on a day's visit to Amethi on Thursday, Priyanka Vadra will reach Rae Bareli on the same day and stay here till November 9.
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