Press Trust of india

Clear govt stand on rail privatisation: Opposition in Lok Sabha

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New Delhi:  Opposition members on Tuesday accused the government of indulging in jugglery of railway finances and sought to know whether it intends to privatise the Indian Railways after Air India.

Initiating the debate on Demand for Grants 2022-23 for Railway in Lok Sabha, Congress member K Suresh accused the government of running the railways in an inefficient manner and said it is indulging in jugglery in allocation of funds.

“… The intention of this government is privatising the Indian Railways also. Air India already sold. Now next step of this government is Indian Railways. That will happen very soon,” Suresh said, asking the Railway Minister whether the Indian Railways will remain under Government of India or not.

He alleged that the government is not taking any sincere action to achieve the rail revenue target set in the Budget. For 2022-23 fiscal, the internal revenue of railways has been pegged at Rs 2.40 lakh crore, a 19 per cent increase from the revised estimates of the current fiscal.

The Congress MP said the annual plan of the railways proposed for the next fiscal is Rs 2.45 lakh crore. This includes gross budgetary support of Rs 1.30 lakh crore, 55.85 per cent of total capital expenditure.

Questioning where the rest of the money would come from, Suresh said it would come from PPP, institutional financing and foreign direct investment.

“The Indian Railways, the premier public sector, is up for sale. The BE for extra budgetary resources for 2022-23 is Rs 1.15 lakh crore, meaning that 41 per cent of capital expenditure will come from leasing… and putting pieces of public sector organisation for sale to bidders,” Suresh said.

Expressing concern over huge vacancies in the railways, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi (DMK) said the South Indians don’t get jobs and it seems that there is an effort to keep them away.

She demanded that the government clarify as to how 100 per cent electrification can be achieved by the next year if it is 73 per cent at present. With regard to elephant death on railway tracks, she said, the Railway Ministry should look into the matter.

Satabdi Roy (TMC) stressed the need to bring down platform ticket price from Rs 50 to reasonable levels.

The price was raised in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and since the situation has improved the ministry should look at it, Roy reasoned.

Roy also sought to know the stand of the the government on privatisation and what impact it will have on common man.

She wondered if the country really needed the Bullet Train and urged the ministry to focus on reducing the time for claim settlement for railway accident victims.

Gajanan Kirtikar (Shiv Sena) raised the issue of rehabilitation by the railways caused due to expansion of tracks. The ministry should also focus on commercial usage of additional land that the Railway has, he said.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP from Jaunpur Shyam Singh Yadav alleged that the railways is no longer a common man’s transport with increasing prices and privatisation.

The railways should be for the poor people, he asserted.

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