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Railway Budget has cheated people: Lalu

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 25, 2016 19:30 IST
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'It is all over. It has derailed. There is nothing in the Rail budget,' Lalu Prasad said.

Two former Railway ministers-- Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad--and a leader of Trinamool Congress, which held the Rail portfolio thrice, on Thursday trashed the Railway Budget as "disappointing" and a "big zero".

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan said the railway budget was mere "jugglery of words" while the NCP dubbed it as "housekeeping budget" which was "directionless" and devoid of goodies for the common man.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while describing the budget as "disappointing" said it did not have anything impressive in terms of cleanliness and safety.

Kumar, a senior JD(U) leader also said he was not impressed by the decision not to raise passenger fares.

"With the decline in international oil prices, they should have actually lowered the train increase in fare could serve the purpose of breaking news, but it's not a big deal in view of falling international oil prices," Kumar told reporters in Patna.

Kumar, who was the Railway Minister during Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's term, said there were no "concrete proposals" for enhancing safety or to check delayed running of trains.

"Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is a personal friend. My good wishes are with him but there is nothing in the Railway Budget to cheer about," Kumar said.

"The depreciation reserve fund has dwindled to less than 40 per cent under the present regime. Hence, there is no impressive allocation of funds on enhancing safety," he said.

During his tenure as Railway Minister, Kumar had created a safety reserve fund of about Rs 17,000 crore for making journeys safe and secure.

Lalu Prasad, who is RJD President, said the Budget has "cheated" people as it has nothing to offer.

He also said there was no concern for "safety" aspect in the Budget.

"It is all over. It has derailed. There is nothing in the Rail budget. It has cheated people. Let the financial Budget be presented, it will be further finished...," Prasad told reporters in Patna.

Prasad, who served as Railway minister during UPA I, said that he had achieved a surplus of Rs 60,000 crore during his tenure as the Railway minister. He had not even asked from the government to support the Rail Budget.

The Trinamool Congress described the budget as a "big zero" and said there was nothing new at all.

"The Railway Budget is a big zero. Last year it had no depth. This year too. Nothing new at all. Freight rates and passenger fares were increased earlier. Zero plus zero equals zero," TMC national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said in a statement. Besides West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi and Mukul Roy of TMC had held the Railway portfolio.

"(Suresh) Prabhu's first railway budget was directionless and this one has also failed to meet expectations", Chavan, former Maharashtra Chief Minister, said in Mumbai.

Railway Budget fails to meet Tamil Nadu’s expectations: Jayalalithaa 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday welcomed initiatives announced in the Railway Budget like a Rail Auto hub in Chennai and no increase in fares, but said it has however failed to meet the expectations of the people of the state on the whole.

She said the first ever Rail Auto Hub to be set up in Chennai would cement the city's position as a major automobile manufacturing centre.

"I am happy that the Railway Minister has spared the common person and not levied any increase in the rail fares," the chief minister said.

She also welcomed the announcement of the Delhi-Chennai (north-south) dedicated freight corridor, but said it and the one proposed on East Coast, terminating in Vijayawada, "ought to have been extended" to Thoothukudi (in Tamil Nadu). "This would have fulfilled Tamil Nadu's long standing request to create a Chennai-Thoothukudi dedicated freight corridor," Jayalalithaa said in a statement.

She thanked the Railway Minister for upgradation of Nagapattinam and Velankanni stations and urged that similar steps be taken for pilgrim centres like Rameswaram.

Hailing enhancement of passenger amenities, she said measures to improve redressal mechanisms were positive, too.

However, service quality and grievance redressal to the common man who may not be digitally literate nor owning a smart phone should also be ensured, the chief minister said.

She said the Railway Minister seemed to have been "buffeted by the headwinds" facing him in terms of the overall slowdown in the international economy and the possible impact of the Seventh Pay Commission.

With the Railway capital expenditure expected to be stepped up substantially to Rs 1.21 lakh crore, it was "surprising that no specific projects" was announced, including several projects in Tamil Nadu which she had requested.

She said no specific plans for upgradation of suburban transit system in Chennai was a "major omission."

As regards "new structures", it was unfortunate that only a "token consultation" was held with states before finalising the draft MOU which "lacks clarity".

"The present structure where 75 per cent of the equity and the entire land cost are to be met by the states, with all control with the Ministry of Railways, is simply unacceptable," she said.

Jayalalithaa said her government was prepared to engage with the Railway Ministry on reworking the MoU to ensure a more balanced and acceptable draft.

"On the whole, the Railway Budget has failed to meet the expectations of the people of Tamil Nadu. With no new trains and no new railway lines announced, the budget belied the sense of expectation," she said. 

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