Kolkata: In a break from tradition, Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday took over as railway minister in The Eastern Railway headquarters in the West Bengal capital instead of Rail Bhavan in New Delhi and announced special monthly travel passes for people with income below Rs500.
Stating the railways is the lifeline of India, Banerjee said,“My ministry will provide special monthly travel passes for people in the unorganized sector, especially those coming from villages to the city for work and having a monthly income of less than Rs500.”
The passes would cost Rs20 and for a distance of 100km, the minister said. A special identity card will be issued to them, she said.
The technicalities of issuing the passes will be worked out by the Railways, Banerjee said.
She also announced introduction of the Howrah-Digha Kandari Express to mark the birth anniversary of rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
“My taking charge from Bengal does not mean that my work will be limited to Bengal only. There is a natural disaster here and I can’t leave the people,” she said referring to cyclone Aila which hit West Bengal on Monday preventing her from reaching the national capital to assume office.
“We will work for the entire country,” Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress chief, said in the presence of Railway Board chairman S.S. Khurana and other senior railway officials.
“Under my supervision, the Railways will take special care for passenger amenities, cleanliness, safety and for freight from the commercial point of view and with a human face,” she said.
The railway minister said the modernization and introduction of new technology in major stations and yards will also be taken up.
Besides, the railways will take up the upgradation of employees.
The Railways will also take measures to improve tourism and other sectors, she said.
Stating the railway budget was ‘knocking at the door´, Banerjee said,“Let us start our process from today. We cannot say about the budget now. It is totally the prerogative of Parliament. But we have to do it within July 31.”
Banerjee said all pending railway projects in Jammu and Kashmir will be given special care and attention. “We want to develop all parts of India,” she said.