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Friday, February 25, 2011

Rail Budget 2011 : A passenger-friendly Budget, says Mamata

PTI, New Delhi, 25 February : Describing Rail Budget 2011-12 as "environment and passenger-friendly", Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee today said it has addressed all issues.
"Whether passenger related issues or environment related or for that matter any thing...every isssue is dealt with. The budget is passenger-friendly, environment-friendly," she told PTI.
Describing the year 2011-12 as the "Year of Green Energy" in her budget, Mamata has proposed to upgrade 442 stations as Adarsh stations ( junctions), setting up budget hotels at 45 locations and launching a new portal for e-ticketing among others.
Asked about the logic behind not raising passenger fares, she said there are issues like cleanliness, quality of food being served in trains and other issues concerning rail pasengers. "We should increase the fares only after improving these services," she said. Photo : PTI

Railway Min. Mamata has played tricks with figures : CPIM
PTI, New Delhi, 25 February : Terming the Rail Budget as an "exercise in deceit", the CPI(M) today alleged that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had "cunningly juggled" figures to show improved financial position of the PSU behemoth which it claimed had been turned bankrupt.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the Railway Minister has played with figures to project an operating ratio of 91.1% for 2011-12 which he claimed has touched 115% at present. "Railways have paid Rs 1700 crore less as dividend," and has therefore been able to show an improved operating ratio, he said.

President Zillur Rahman leaves for Kuwait on 3dy state visit
Dhaka, 25 February : Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman on Friday left here for Kuwait on a three-day state visit to attend the golden jubilee celebration of State of Kuwait's Independence.
A special flight sent by the Ameer of Kuwait carried the President from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 2:10pm (BDST).

Exhibition Rly to go on cultural exchange programme to BD
ANI, New Delhi, 25 February : Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that "Sanskriti Express", a special exhibition train to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore is set to go on a cultural exchange programme to Bangladesh on an invitation by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
She said Sheikh Hasina has suggested 'Sonar Tori' as the name of the train and the suggestion has been accepted. Sanskriti Express launched in May 2010 is showcasing artistic works, philosophy and teachings of Gurudev. The train has been moving across the country and has been visited by more than 24 lakh people in 18 States so far.
" Several other special exhibition trains such as "Mother Express", a tribute to Mother Teresa on her birth centenary and "Aurobindo Express" have also been run to disseminate the message of these great personalities. In addition, running of "Vivekanada Express" will be extended for two years upto his 150th birth anniversary in 2013," she said.

World Bank approves $ 1.2bn IDA credit for Padma Bridge
UNB, Dhaka, 25 February : The World Bank has approved a US$ 1.2 billion concessional IDA credit to Bangladesh for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project in order to improve connectivity and boost opportunities for people in the southwest Bangladesh.
Spanning the Padma River, the world’s third largest 6.1 km long bridge will connect nearly 30 million people in the Southwest region to the rest of the country, enhancing their access to markets and services while accelerating growth as a whole.
The bridge, the largest IDA credit ever, will reduce distances to capital Dhaka by about 100 km while cutting travel times in half from most areas of Southwest Bangladesh.
Given its size, complexity and expected impact on local communities, the bridge includes state of the art safeguards and accountability features. Transparency has been emphasized throughout every step of its preparation and design.
“We’ve been working closely with the Government of Bangladesh on a `Governance and Accountability Action Plan’ that ensures strict supervision to prevent fraud or corruption, and guarantees quality and transparency,” said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank South Asia Vice President.

Eco growth could rise to 10pc in three years: Kaushik Basu
PTI, New Delhi, 25 February : With the economy recovering faster than anticipated, Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu today said India's economic growth rate could be in double digits in the next three years.
Referring to the impact of political turmoil in the Middle East, he said the crisis would not hurt the economy unless the crude oil prices rise to "abnormally" high levels. Inflation, however, would continue to be an area of concern, said Basu, the main author of the Economic Survey 2010-11, which was tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee earlier in the day.
Russia to build Bangladesh's first $1.5 billion nuclear plant
AP, Dhaka, 25 February : Russia has agreed to build energy-starved Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant, the government said Friday.
Bangladesh's Ministry of Science said officials from the two countries signed an agreement in Dhaka late Thursday for the $1.5 billion plant.
Russia will supply two reactors capable of generating a total of 2,000 megawatts of electricity for the plant, which is to be built by 2018, the ministry said. It will also supply fuel for the plant and take back the spent fuel, it said.
Russia also will train workers to run the plant, to be built in Rooppur, 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Dhaka. Relations between the two countries have been close since Russia backed Bangladesh in its 1971 war of independence with Pakistan.
Bangladesh's decades-old gas-fired power plants are unable to generate enough electricity for the country's 150 million people, with a daily shortfall of about 2,000 megawatts. Businesses complain that the shortages interfere with production.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank say Bangladesh's economy, which has grown by more than 5 percent in recent years, will suffer if more electricity is not generated to support industries and agriculture.