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Rediff.com  » Business » Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

July 09, 2014 11:34 IST

Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

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Vicky Nanjappa

There have been mixed reactions to the maiden Budget presented by Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday. 

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the Budget, the Opposition went berserk attacking what it called the ‘pro-rich’ Budget.

However, Gowda says, his focus will be to improve and revive the railways.

“There is a misconception that the private sector will not get their returns if they invest in railways. We are doing everything to change that perception so that the railways benefit,” says Gowda.

In this interview with Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com, Gowda says foreign direct investments in railways would be permitted only in infrastructure and not operations.

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Image: Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda.


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Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

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On FDI

Major investment in the railways is needed to improve facilities and offer world-class services.

There have been teething problems all along and some measures need to be taken in order to offer better services.

We have decided to launch bullet trains for the benefit of the public. One must remember that huge investments are the need of the hour.

Hence, we decided to introduce foreign direct investment in railways. However, what one must bear in mind is that the FDI comes into the picture only where the infrastructure is concerned. The operations part will remain with the government.

Moreover, we also need to impose confidence in the private sector as well. There is a misconception that the private sector will not get their returns if they invest in the railways. We are doing everything to change that perception so that the railways benefit. 

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Photographs: Reuters

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Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

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Project implementation

There has always been talks regarding the implementation of projects. However, the earlier governments took no positive steps.

There has been confusion and at times overlapping of duties as far as implementation and policy-making are concerned.

We intend to simplify the process and ensure that while one group will be responsible for policy decisions, the other will implement the same. This would speed up the process and also ensure that there is no overlapping of duties. 

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Photographs: Reuters

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Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

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Hike in fares

I had pointed out earlier that there was a need to hike the passenger fares. Despite knowing the importance of this, the United Progressive Alliance government had kept it on hold.

We want the railways to be safe and offer world-class facilities as millions of people travel in trains.

If we had not hiked the fares, the crisis in railways would have worsened. Pending projects would have remained as it is for want of funds.

There are projects worth Rs 5 lakh crore that are pending due to paucity of funds. These projects are either stalled or delayed.

Our measures would benefit the common man in the long run.

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Image: 'If we had not hiked fares, the crisis in railways would have worsened'
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

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Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

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Bullet trains

Introduction of bullet trains will modernise the railways. Apart from this, we have plans to introduce wi-fi in trains, which will help passengers.

We intend to complete these projects soon and with regard to the implementation of the bullet train project, we can give a time frame by the end of next month once the report is ready. We will ensure that it is implemented at the earliest.

Every Indian must feel proud of this. When people come back from countries like Japan, they talk about bullet trains. Soon, India will have that privilege too.

Revamping the e-ticketing system will make bookings easier and faster. 

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Image: A bullet train in China.
Photographs: Reuters

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Interview with Gowda: 'Railway budget not biased, it's for the common man'

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On protests

Yes, there were protests after the Railway Budget. Everyone must realise that these measures are taken in the interest of the people.

It is not meant to favour any particular section or state.

Majority of the projects announced are in West Bengal and Bihar. Before staging protests, one must look into the facts.

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Photographs: Reuters

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