Indian Rail budget: PM Modi applauds his rail minister!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the new Rail Budget presented in the parliament by Rail minister Suresh Prabhu today on February 26 as “futuristic” and “passenger centric” and said it lays out a clear roadmap to make the national transporter the key driver of the country’s economic growth.
Suresh Prabhu has produced a Rail Budget for 2015-16 that is designed to make the Indian Railways one of the key drivers of the India Growth Story over the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government. With the first year more or less gone, Prabhu has four years to deliver. He is planning to do this by dramatically increasing investments in freight and passenger capacity, including safety and speed. He wants to expand passenger capacity by 43 percent to 30 million daily; increase track length by 20 percent; and boost freight handling capacity by 50 percent to 1.5 billion tonnes.
Prabhu who got off the car with a full smile, underlined his serious intent by proposing a sharp push-up in plan expenditure by 52 percent in 2015-16 to Rs 1,00,011 crore. The centre is footing 41.6 percent of this bill, internal profit generation will yield 17.8 percent. The rest will come from borrowings and unconventional sources, including equity contributions from states keen on enhancing their own rail infrastructure. The higher investment requirements will be met – at least this year – not through an increase in passenger fares, but higher freight that was not really mentioned in Prabhu’s speech. The fine print suggests that Prabhu will be raising more freight revenues not through a general increase in goods carriage tariffs, but by subtly reclassifying cargo categories and distance slabs to generate more revenues from the same basic freight rates.
As PM Modi wants the railways to be an important engine of growth, his minister Prabhu’s is a technocrat’s budget, driven by the need to push investments and set the finances of the organisation right over a medium-term timeframe and make the system self-financing.
“RailBudget2015 is a forward looking, futuristic & passenger centric budget, combining a clear vision & a definite plan to achieve it,” PM Modi tweeted. “Rail Budget lays out a clear roadmap to make the Railways the key driver of India’s economic growth & playing a key role in India’s progress,” Modi added. He said the budget stands out for its focus on the common man, putting speed, scale, service and safety, all on one track.
PM Modi said the budget is a watershed moment for Railways, marking a paradigm shift from discussing coaches & trains to comprehensive railway reform. “I am particularly delighted that for the 1st time there is a concrete vision for technology upgradation & modernisation of the Railways,” he said in another tweet.
Obviously, good news for the rail passengers is that there is no hike in fares and more amenities are promised in trains and stations.
BJP, like Congress party, is a corporatist party and the BJP government stands for their promotion. When people were expecting huge increase in passenger fares and luggage freight, this is indeed soothing news.
Needless to state here that the reason for the people-friendly rail budget by a pro-capitalist, pro-Zionist BJP government is the phenomenal rise of Aam Aadmi party of Kejriwal in Delhi and the Anna Hazare movement that now seems to target the BJP and Modi government.
Anyway, people of India should benefit from government plans and budgets.