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Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

The Railway Minister is understandably concerned about the projects in her home state : BJP

INVC,, Delhi,, The Railway Budget presented by the Railway Minister is symptomatic of the dismal state of this government. Its larger approach is to do nothing. It has run out of ideas. The Railway finances and performance are in a mess. No significant steps have been taken to strengthen the tracks and improve the security apparatus of the Indian Railways. These steps taken by the Union Railway Ministry during the NDA government, had helped the turnaround story of the Railways. It could strengthen the tracks, load higher freights and longer trains. The cash surplus of the Indian Railways, which was Rs. 25,000 crores in 2007-08 is just Rs. 1,328 crores. The Railway is depending upon extensive borrowing. The turnaround story of the Indian Railways is over. Its annual plan is proposed to be financed through gross budgetary support of Rs. 20.000 crores, diesel cess of Rs. 1,041 crores, market borrowings of Rs. 20594 crores through IRFCs, and tax free bonds of Rs. 10,000 crores. In her previous two budgets, the Railway Minister had concentrated on several non-core activities such as construction of hotels, hospitals, medical colleges, malls, sports stadium and even proposed to take over a newspaper in the West Bengal. She had proposed to start several trains. Most of these projects proved to be non-starters. Most of the proposed trains are yet to see the light of the day. The BJP demands that a performance budget should be presented by the government to inform the nation as to what its performance level has been in relation to the promises made by it. The Railway Minister is understandably concerned about the projects in her home state, including at Singur and Nandigram. We expect her to clarify as to where the land for these projects would be made available for. There appears to be a jugglery of accounts, in order to ensure that a profit is projected in the Railways. One such jugglery, on a preliminary reading, is reflected on Page 24 of the ‘Explanatory Memorandum on the Railway Budget’ (2011-12) wherein the amount of appropriation to the depreciation reserves fund has been consciously reduced from Rs. 7,600 crores to Rs. 5,700 crores, which does not appear to have any basis. Since the rolling stocks (assets), which are getting older, and need faster replacement to meet its growing business requirement, will ordinarily require higher epreciation. This budget is for status quo, devoid of any vision or roadmap for the Indian Railways.

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