Mamata Banerjee has ensured that she gets a ‘first’ to her name during her lacklustre performance as Railway Minister. Just as Ghani Khan Chowdhury was keen to route big projects to his Malda constituency, our Trinamool Congress leader is proving to be Minister for Railways (Bengal). Hence we have the first double-decker air-conditioned train running between Howrah and Dhanbad. Read that report in The Hindu here. We don’t grudge the commuters of that sector their facility – what we need is simultaneous implementation in several sectors.
But we must turn our attention to some of our Dravidian greats who have been camping in the Delhi area for many years now, holding Ministerships only to eat heavy meals and strut in Parliament. Although Chennai and other towns in Tamil Nadu need a lot more to be done by way of improving access and quality of transportation, these repositories of knowledge have been doing little.
The urban railway available in Chennai is of British vintage when the population was a fraction of what it is today. The suburban stations on the Beach-Tambaram, Central – Arakkonam, Central – Sulurpet, for instance, are decrepit and crumbling. The MRTS, which is partnered by the Dravidian party governments, lies badly neglected.
A.K. Moorthy, E.V.Velu and the other assorted Ministerial members of the self-respect group from the DMK, AIADMK and PMK have not shown much evidence over the years that they are indeed serious. No point making rabble rousing speeches that the Aryans have hounded the poor Dravidians ever since they invaded India (so traumatised are the Dravidians that they are now collecting every possible paisa in Delhi through telecom scams such as the 2G auctions, after perfecting the art of milking the Ministries of Environment, Surface Transport and Ports.)
But then, Mamata is not really achieving something fantastic. I have travelled by a non-AC double decker train between Mumbai and Valsad (the train used to touch Surat) in 1982! This blog points out that non-AC double-decker trains used to be run from Howrah many years ago.
It would serve the cause of the average urban commuter in Chennai, and perhaps in district commuter hubs/high-density zones such as Coimbatore – Salem, Madurai-Tiruchi, Chennai – Bangalore, if our ‘Kazhagam’ leaders pressed for similar double-decker AC coaches, which will lend them some genuine self-respect, and goodwill among commuters. In any case, please stop making high-sounding speeches of infrastructure development in Chennai, when all that has been happening is the growth of the IT/BPO sector and the resulting spiral of consumption. And Government involvement has been only via speeches in newspapers and the media.