Wednesday, February 27, 2013

 Comments from different organisations


Nothing much for Karnataka

Belying the high hopes of the people of Karnataka, particularly at a time when Assembly elections are to be held in the State shortly, the Railway Budget for 2013-14 presented by Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has nothing much to offer.

It was expected that the Congress would utilise the budget to announce new trains and speed up ongoing projects.
However, the State got only nine new express trains, all weekly services except the Mangalore-Madgaon Intercity Daily Express; two passenger trains and two diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) trains.
The Railway Minister also proposed to extend eight existing services and increase the frequency of three services. He also proposed four new railway lines: Chickballapur-Gauribidanur; Chickballapur-Sri Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam.

Pragmatic and balanced: industry

Industry has by and large lauded the Railway Budget, saying Pawan Kumar Bansal has adopted a rather conservative approach than a populist one. His efforts to link up the north-east have also been received well.
Notwithstanding the Railways’ poor finances, the budget is pragmatic and balanced, industry has said. But some industry bodies have felt that the budget, high on customer comfort and safety, will affect industry with the revised freight rate regime.
Bharat Chamber of Commerce president Ashok Aikat said the budget was forward-looking in passenger amenities, but lacked innovative steps to improve the finances.
Bengal Chamber of Commerce director-general P. Roy said Mr. Bansal comprehensively addressed the needs of the various sectors of the economy and the growth, safety and modernisation of the Railways. The increase in freight rates was not too severe but was linked to fuel adjustments.
Pointing to the Minister’s efforts at improving connectivity with the north-east, the ICC lauded the completion of the land acquisition for the 2800-km East-West Freight Corridor, which it said was vital to unlocking the economic potential of the north-eastern States. It felt that the linking up of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur with the railway network would facilitate regional economic integration.
The BCC felt that the hope for more allocation to speed up the projects in West Bengal was belied. The ICC and the MCC Chamber of Commerce & Industry lauded the proposals to extend the rake length and to take forward the East-West Metro Project. It regretted that there was no mention of projects announced previously, except the East-West Project.
Pawan K Ruia, chairman of Jessop, a wagon and engineering company, said that as the country’s biggest infrastructure outfit, the Railways rightly focussed on port connectivity, with the budget proposing an investment of Rs. 9,000 crore. Though the budget might not look growth-oriented, it had definite proposals for the much-needed improvement of services, he said.
However, there was a need to induct at least 20,000 wagons annually into the system, he said, pointing out that last year, the Railways failed to meet the target of procuring 18,000 wagons, and this year the target was lowered to 16,000.
Subhasri Nandi, secretary-general of the Coal Consumers Association of India, said the budget would add to the woes of industry as the decision to introduce the Fuel Adjustment Component would have a cascading effect on society, trickling down to industry at large.



BCCI opposes proposed hike in freight charges

: The Bidar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has opposed the hike in freight charges proposed in the Railway Budget as it would increase the prices of commodities and add to inflation.
“The cost of transport will add to the cost of goods and the poor and the middle class will be burdened further,” B.G. Shetkar, BCCI president, said in a release.
Residents of Bidar wanted an overnight train to Bangalore, and he said they felt this could have been done by changing the timing of the Nanded — Bangalore express or by starting a new train to Bangalore. Neither options were considered, he said. This shows that neither the State government nor our representatives has failed to convince the Union government of our needs, he added.
The budget has not met the expectations of the people, but the only relief is the decision not to hike passenger fairs, Mr. Shetkar said.

Directionless, says Pralhad Joshi

Pralhad Joshi, MP, has termed the Railway Budget a static budget that does not have any constructive proposal.
Mr. Joshi said the budget lacked basic measures that were found in earlier budgets and there was nothing that would give direction to the Indian Railways.
“Mr. Bansal has not made any constructive proposal to help the Indian Railways progress,” he said.
Referring to the much awaited Dharwad–Belgaum new railway line, Mr. Joshi said the people of the region had been disappointed again. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar had announced that the State government would share the cost of the new railway line and also give the required land. However, the proposal was not taken into consideration by the Railway Minister, he said. Mr. Joshi has welcomed the decision to run the Yeshwantpur–Nizamuddin train four days a week. He has also welcomed the decision to start a Hubli–Mumbai Weekly Express.
Although the Railway Minister had said that there was no hike in fares, he had hiked the tatkal reservation fare and ticket cancellation fee.

False claim on fares, says CPI(M)

The Railway budget is more of a burden on train travellers, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Tuesday.
In a statement here, the Polit Bureau said the Railway Minister had made a “false claim” that fares were not being increased. After the raising of passenger fares by 20 per cent recently, the budget provisions would definitely add to the fares further. The fuel surcharge would result in the fares going up twice a year. There was also an increase in reservation, cancellation and tatkal charges and fares of superfast trains.
The five per cent increase in freight charges across the board would have a cascading effect on inflation.
As for the proposal for creation of an independent Rail Tariff Authority, the CPI(M) said this would pave the way for continuous upward revision of freight rates and passenger fares.
Financial crisis
But the budget made no serious effort to overcome the financial crisis afflicting the Railways. The crisis was deliberately caused in the past three years by enhancing the number of projects, and spending on advertisements, foundation-laying ceremonies and other activities.
The Minister had scaled down targets for new lines, gauge conversion and acquisition of railway stock in order to reduce the operating ratio.
The annual plan target was not achievable as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model was a failure. Not a single investment had come in the PPP model in the Railways, the party said.
The freight target was increased but the target for acquisition of wagons was reduced by 2000, making it difficult to achieve the freight target.
Though there was a serious increase in train accidents, there was no proposal to make rail travel safe, the Polit Bureau said.
It demanded that the increase in fares through various means and the rise in freight charges be rescinded.


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