UP railway station still waiting for Vajpayee

Bateshwar (Uttar Pradesh), Dec 25 (IANS) Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee hoped to visit here in a train after laying the foundation stone of the railway station 17 years ago — a wish, that still remains unfulfilled.

Only one train from Etawah to the Taj city runs through the once dreaded dacoit territory between the Chambal and Yamuna rivers.

Vajpayee laid the foundation stone of the railway station on April 6, 1999, and hoped to travel in a train to the holy town that boasts of 101 Shiva temples along the bank of the Yamuna.

Residents of Bateshwar wished the former Prime Mminister well on his birthday on Sunday but regretted his ill health. The ‘mohalla’ once had over 60 Vajpayee families but most have now moved on.

Only Vajpayee’s sister’s house remains, said Swadesh Dixit, an elderly gentleman who praised the former Prime MInister’s notable contribution to India.

“The area is in shambles and Bateshwar still looks for a saviour to speed up development,” said shopkeeper Murari Lal, who sells items for puja at Shiva temples.

Only a handful of people here can recall Vajpayee’s early childhood.

“Unlike politicians of today, Vajpayee never showed any special favour for Bateshwar, his birth town. No development work was started. The area remained backward, crying for infrastructural upgradation,” a ‘panda’ (priest) at the Yamuna ghat said.

The railway station at Bateshwar even today hardly attracts passengers.

“The train remains largely empty,” said a vendor.

The Chambal Safari project, popularised by Ram Pratap Singh of Jarar, recently concluded a three-day international bird festival attended by over 100 foreign and domestic ornithologists and wild life lovers.

“The Chambal river along the cycle track affords spectacular view of alligators, crocodiles, several species of birds, tortoises. The Chambal is perhaps the cleanest river of India as the water sparkles and remains unsullied, as there is no big town on its banks, after Kota,” said wild life photographer Gopal Pasricha.

To promote the area, IIT engineer and conservationist Ram Pratap Singh and his environmental scientist wife Annu developed a centre at Jarar town from where the visitors are taken for the Chambal safari escorted by a guide and guard.