Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Railways Meets

Railway Minister for Balanced Development of Railway Related Facilities in the Country 
The Minister of Railways, Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal said that the elected representative through this Consultative Committee have been presenting demands and needs of common people and Indian Railways is committed to look into these demands and work as far as possible towards meeting people’s aspirations. He emphasized that there is need to ensure balanced development of all regions and assured the Consultative Committee that all States and all regions in the country will get their due in the development of railway related facilities.

The Railway Minister was speaking at the Consultative Committee meeting of Members of Parliament for Ministry of Railways here today. The agenda for the meeting was “Railways’ ongoing projects”. The Ministers of State for Railways, Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Shri Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy were especially present at the meeting. Referring to the several ongoing projects of new line construction, gauge conversion and doubling, the Railway Minister said that such projects worth Rs. 1.5 lakh crore are pending as through forward. Due to resource constraint, it is a very challenging task to complete them. He said that Railways will do its best to complete them as far as possible but the financial constraints need to be addressed.

Elaborating the rational for recent passenger fare hike, the Railway Minister, Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal said that basic fares had not been revised recent upwards in the last ten years. He pointed out that losses in passenger segment have increased substantially over the years. The Railway Minister pointed out that as a consequence internal resource generation was seriously impacted, resulting in scaling down of Annual Plan size, which has now been limited to Rs. 51,000 crore in 2012-13 as against Rs. 61,000 crore that was originally targeted. Similarly, Fund balances became negative in 2011-12, adversely affecting essential replacement/renewal of assets, operation and maintenance activities and critical safety & passenger amenity works. The Railway Minister emphasized that it was in view of these factors, that increasing passenger fares had became unavoidable. He said that the passenger fare hike was done now so that around Rs. 1200 crore could be mobilized through this in the remaining two months of this current financial year itself so that ongoing railways projects get some resources. Passenger fare hike was also necessary in the overall interests of this critical infrastructure as well as its users on a sustainable basis, he added.

Shri Bansal said that he is personally giving priority to safety, punctuality and cleanliness. The Railway Minister said that he has recently gone around the country and visited and inspected some stations with a view to improve level of cleanliness. The Minister informed that 100 stations with more than 10 lakh population and with religious and tourists importance have been identified for taking up cleanliness drive in the first phase. He has also written a letter to General Managers of all Zonal Railways to focus on cleanliness matters. He said that more and more coaches will be provided with bio-toilets and the washing aprons are being provided at the stations. The Minister also informed that a team of officers of Railway Board will be formed who will go around the country to undertake inspections to ensure cleanliness. Referring to the catering services, Minister said that efforts are on to provide quality catering services at a station and in running trains. New tenders are being floated and base kitchens are being constructed to cook food in the most hygienic environment. Efforts are also being made to provide clean linen. Expressing concern over the accidents at unmanned level crossings, the Minister said that Ministry is constantly working to eliminate such crossings and cooperation of State Governments is being sought in this regard.

Referring to the recent deaths of some elephants in train accidents, the Minister said that Railways is in touch with the forest departments of respective State Governments so as to avoid such unfortunate incidents. Referring to the Railways preparations for the Kumbh Mela, the Minister said that he along with the Railway Board Members had personally visited Allahabad to take stock of the arrangements made for the passengers. He informed that the effective crowd management mechanism have been put into place to avoid any stampede like situations. He assured to augment more facilities at Allahabad during the Kumbh period as and when required. He said that the demand of the Members to open more PRS Centres at small places with the help of Post Offices will be looked into positively. The Railway Minister also assured that the arrangements for security will be beefed up for the travelling persons specially the women. He also said that Railways will continue to provide facilities to disabled persons.

The Members of the Committee also made several suggestions regarding ongoing railway projects and requested for expediting the work of various pending projects on doubling, gauge conversion and foot over bridge, road over bridges etc. A number of members participating the meeting also emphasized on the need of providing improved passenger amenities, clean linen, clean coaches and stations and catering services specially the hygiene and quality of food.

Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Vinay Mittal, Board Members and senior officials of Ministry of Railways were among those present on the occasion. 

AKS/HK/BS
(Release ID :91763)

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