`Izzat` railway passes being misused, complain MPs

Members from across the political spectrum today alleged in the Lok Sabha that `Izzat` railway passes meant for people Below the Poverty Line were being misused.

New Delhi: Members from across the political spectrum today alleged in the Lok Sabha that `Izzat` railway passes meant for people Below the Poverty Line were being misused.

They said this has tarnished the image of MPs as they have the power to issue certificates to BPL families for obtaining the passes.

Raising the matter during Question Hour, Deepa Dasmunshi (Cong) said Izzat pass scheme launched in 2009 has been misused as these certificates are being issued to wrong people. "The respect of MPs has been lost due to these passes," she said.

Several members, cutting across party lines, were on their feet and supported Dasmunshi`s contention.

Railway Minister Mukul Roy informed the House that there was no question of withdrawing the Izzat scheme. He said now even MLAs have been authorised to issue these passes.

The Izzat pass allows a BPL person, having income of less than Rs 1,500 to travel by train up to 100 km daily. It costs Rs 25 per month.

To another question, Roy said all on-going railway projects were on track and will be completed within the stipulated time.

Minister of State for Railways K H Muniappa said work was underway on 340 gauge conversion, doubling of tracks and electrification projects.

"Under 12th Plan, we will build 5,500 km tracks while doubling of 16,000 km tracks will be done. Doubling is done only when the main track is saturated," he said.

He said states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Jharkhand were cooperating with the Railway Ministry by sharing 50 per cent of the cost of these projects.

To a question, Roy said division of work between him and
the two Ministers of State for Railways is according to zones and not states.

"Railways is divided into 17 zones. Eight of these zones are under one MoS and another six under the second MoS. I am looking after the remaining three zones," he said.

Roy said 34 new tracks were being established in Bihar and assured the members that projects will be completed on time.

Under the 11th Plan, 69.06 per cent of the projects had been completed from 2007 to 2012. During the last year (2011-12), 68 per cent of the projects were done. Of the targeted 1,075 km new lines, 2,207 km have been completed in five years.

Similarly, for gauge conversion, 75.29 per cent of the projects were completed in the 11th Plan as 5,321 km of the target of 7,067 km was built.

Muniappa said 74.20 per cent of the projects for doubling of tracks has been completed in the 11th Plan as 2,758 km of the target of 3,717 km was done.

The ministry`s achievement in Railway electrification has been the most impressive with 108.47 of the projects completed. The target set for 11th Plan was 4,200 km and 4,556 km was covered.

However, Railway Ministry is facing a resource crunch which is affecting its projects.

"Indian Railways have a huge shelf of on-going projects requiring about Rs 1,25,000 crore for completion and limited availability of resources," Muniappa said.

Other impediments are delay in land availability and forest clearance, adverse law and order conditions, failure of contractors, court cases in regard to alignment and non-availability of materials.


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