Rail budget an ‘ill-prepared’ document, says Cong
Government on Friday came under attack in the Lok Sabha over proposals in its maiden Railway budget, with Congress
Initiating debate in the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury attacked the government for bringing FDI in building railway infrastructure and allowing PPP in one of the biggest networks in the world.
“These models are not successful anywhere in the world,” said Mr. Chowdhury, a former Minister of State for Railways.
He asked from where the government was going to generate Rs. 9 lakh crore for funding Diamond Quadrilateral project.
He also took potshots at the government’s proposal for running bullet trains in the country, saying it was a very costly project and Rs. 100 crore allocated in the budget was “meagre”.
“You have failed to deliver any roadmap to common man. You live in make believe world. Start living in true world. From where you are going to generated Rs. 9 lakh crore for Diamond Quadrilateral project?,” he said.
Mr. Chowdhury alleged that there were various “factual mistakes” in the budget presented by Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda.
Questioning the government’s claim that the previous UPA government did not start executing majority of the 99 projects announced during their tenure, he said four of these projects sanctioned in 2013-14 were completed and 46 were about to be completed.
The Congress leader said delay in getting green clearances, land acquisition and protests in the areas where the project is envisaged were the major reasons for the delay in their execution.
He said the government, in its budget, has created an impression that it was discontinuing projects including new lines and gauge conversion which are not giving “proper return“.
New lines are meant for bringing development in the backward regions of the country, Mr. Chowdhury said.
Mr. Chowdhury said the government which is talking about “China model” should realise that the neighbouring nation has spent from public fund to improve its rail network and infrastructure.
Rakesh Singh (BJP) countered it saying “we don’t like China model” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has underlined that the government would follow the “vikas ka model”.
Mr. Singh said Congress, which was in power at the Centre for nearly 60 years, had appointed several panels to study the problems of the railways but none of the recommendations was implemented.
“What happened to the recommendations? Instead of protecting railways, you (Congress) were protecting chairs,” he said.
Hailing the proposal for recruitment for 4,000 women constables to ensure safety of women, Singh said the Prime Minister and Railway Minister have “honoured” women in the country by announcing measures to ensure their safety.
Mr. Singh said there has been a decline in operating ratio of the Railways which has impacted its performance in the past 10 years.
The ratio stood at 93.5 per cent in the Budget for 2014-15. The interim budget in February had pegged the operating ratio at 90.5 per cent.
He said during the UPA tenure, the functioning of Railways has moved towards deterioration.
AIADMK member Ponnusamy Venugopal said the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model proposed for development of railways and plans for diamond quadrilateral are welcome.
Saying that most areas of Tamil Nadu still remained unconnected, Mr. Venugopal demanded a bullet train from Chennai. “The second bullet train must be from Chennai,” he said.
The Railway Budget tabled in the Lok Sabha on July 8 had proposed to start bullet trains on Mumbai-Ahmedabad route and a Diamond Quadrilateral project of high speed trains to connect all major metros.
Yogi Adityanath (BJP) said the Budget was presented at a time when there were concerns about railways’ functioning from all quarters.
The Railways have deteriorated and come to a bad shape in past 10 years. The Minister (Sadananda Gowda) has a huge task before him, he said.
Sparing passengers of any further fare hike, Railway Budget for 2014-15 proposed to attract private domestic and FDI in infrastructure projects and pursue private-public partnership to boost its finances.