No decision on setting up Vijayawada-based Railway Zone: Naidu

New Delhi: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today termed as “speculative” the media reports that a new Railway Zone may be set up with Vijayawada as its headquarter and said “no decision has been taken yet” on the issue.

Talking to media persons after a meeting with Bjpleaders from Andhra Pradesh, led by its state unit president Hari Babu, here, Naidu described the media reports regarding establishment of a Railway Zone in the state at Vijayawada as “speculative”.

“No decision has yet been taken. We are in favour of Railway Zone,” he said and expressed confidence that “the efforts would succeed since Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu represents Andhra Pradesh”.

Newsreports that the Railway Zone may be headquartered in Vijayawada triggered protests in Visakhapatnam. Visakhapatnam (Waltair division) is situated in Andra Pradesh but falls under the jurisdiction of Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway.

The Union minister advised the state Bjpleaders to go to the people and explain that the “best alternative dispensation” was provided to Andhra Pradesh”in lieu of Special Category Status”.

He said such category was not possible to be granted as the 14th Finance Commission did not make any distinction between special and general category states.

He told the Bjpleaders that benefits that would accrue to Andhra Pradeshwould be more than what it would have got through special category state status.

He said that under the special package, the revenue deficit would be bridged by the Centre and the total deficit of Rs 22,113 crore for five-year period ending 2019-20 would be paid as revenue deficit grant.

He also said that the “government shall examine” the feasibility of creating Railway Zone and some other projects like Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor.

Rejecting the charge that the help extended by the NDA government was delayed, Naidu said that at the very first Cabinet meeting, an ordinance to merge seven mandals in Telangana’s Khammam district with Andhra Pradeshwas approved and that he had met President Pranab Mukherjee immediately to explain its importance for him to give presidential assent.

He said, “The betrayers responsible for unjust bifurcation of the state have no moral right to accuse the NDA government”.

“The Congress, Left and other parties have no moral right to criticise Bjpand the NDA government,” he said and cautioned “the party leaders to be wary of the attempts by political opponents to create a rift between Bjpand TDP in Andhra Pradesh.”

Naidu also asked the state Bjpleaders to “effectively counter the disinformation campaign being carried out with ulterior motives by their political opponents”, according to a release.