Insurgency blocking railway works in NE

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Guwahati, Mar 8 (UNI) Indian Railway Board Chairman K C Jena today admitted that insurgency was blocking the fast progress of railway works in North-East.

Addressing a press conference at the Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway headquarters here, Mr Jena said, ''Insurgency is causing problems for implementation of railway projects in the region. It is hindering development.'' ''We have been in touch with the state governments and Union Ministry of Home Affairs has also been intimated. They have also taken up the issue with the states,'' he said.

Mr Jena hastened to add that the response from Assam government, with the state accounting for the major chuck of railway connectivity in the region, has been positive and it had been forthcoming in extending help.

He added that the state has informed of raising a 1,000 strong force of ex-servicemen to guard 86 sites of the railways, with 42 of these sites already manned by state police and paramilitary forces. ''The railway also has its own forces and we are giving importance to the security aspect in NE,'' he added.

On the persistent demand by several youth and students groups of NE for reservation in grade C and D jobs for local youth, Mr Jena said such a demand can not be entertained by the Railways.

He cited the Supreme Court verdict, that spelled that all India selection procedures had to be open process and no region-specific reservation could be allowed.

He said, ''We are bound by the law and can not give preferential treatment to youth from the NE.'' Elaborating on the special attention to North East, the chairman stressed that non-availability of funds for the region, which was a major bottleneck earlier, no longer exists.

He highlighted the non-lapsable fund of the railways created for NE on the Prime Minister's initiative, which would be formed with 25 per cent share from railway's Gross Budgetary Support and 75 per cent by the Union Finance Ministry.

Mr Jena also underlined that the Budgetary allocation for NE has gone up from Rs 902 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 1269 crore in 2008-09.

UNI SG PP KK BD1425

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