Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Railways Get Proposals Worth Rs 15,000 Cr in PPP Mode: Gowda
New Delhi | Jul 15, 2014
Indian Railways have received proposals totalling Rs 15,000 crore for development of various projects under the PPP mode, Railway Minister Sadanada Gowda said today.

Gowda also defended the recent 14.2 per cent passenger fare hike and 6.5 per cent freight hike saying it was the need of the hour as there was no hike for the last 10 years and the organisation was "run on unrealistic and impractical approach."

"This Rail Budget is a budget with a difference. I have steered away from populism and focused on increasing revenue, harnessing new technology and safety and security," he said.

As regards the investments so far, he said, "We have received 79 last mile connectivity proposals, 22 private freight terminals, production units, sidings. In total Rs 15,000 crore worth commitments have been received in the recent past."

The Rail Budget 2014-15 was later passed by the House after a discussion during which Opposition members picked holes in his proposals.

Responding to the concerns of members of relying too much on FDI for development of railways, the Minister clarified that it will not be allowed in the core operation of railways.

He said foreign investment will be permitted only in big ticket projects like high speed corridor, dedicated freight corridor and suburban trains.

"FDI in railways is a positive signal to investors. It will be encouraged in railway infrastructure and not allowed in operation," he said. (MORE)

On fare hike, Gowda said, "Fare hike was implemented by my government because it was the need of the hour...It was long overdue and there was no hike in the last 10 years."

Responding to the criticism by opposition members that the Minister has not given anything to state like West Bengal and Bihar, he said that maximum allocation was made to West Bengal (Rs 3,280 crore) followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar.

He said focus will be on completion of ongoing projects.

The Minister emphasised that even while raising passenger fares, he had made all efforts to ensure that common man was not burdened.

Still sleeper class fare is only one third of what is being charged by bus for same distance, he said.

He said concerns of all states have been taken care of and gave details of allocation made to some of the states.

As Congress MPs from Kerala protested against the budget saying the state has been ignored, Gowda said a joint study group along with state officials will be set up to address concerns and land acquisition hurdles of the state.

"We will also like to have a pilgrim circuit in Kerala as it has many famous temples like Guruvayur and Sabarimala," he added.

Earlier participating in the debate, M Rajamohan Reddy (YSR Congress) asked government to find a "suitable way" to implement all the pending projects.

Hansraj Ahir (BJP) supported the budgetary proposals and said no state has been ignored by the Railway Minister.

Vinayak Raut (Shiv Sena) emphasised the need for further development of infrastructure in the Konkan railways.

He said steps should be taken to check "big fraud" in the e-tickets.

Ramkripal Yadav (BJP) said Bihar is a backward state and more allocations should be made for completion of all pending projects.

He demanded a bullet train connecting Patna for the development of Bihar.

Abhishek Singh (BJP) asked the government to ensure that there is rail connectivity in all Naxal-affected districts of Chhattisgarh.

Demanding increased rail links, he said the state has very low rail density compared to national average.

Srinivas Kesineni (TDP) said the Railway Budget was a "mixed bag" for Andhra Pradesh, which needs a lot of new infrastructure.

Jitendra Chaudhury (CPI-M) opposed government's proposal to allow foreign direct investments in railways.

He said all capitals of north eastern states should have rail connectivity and urged the government to improve safety standards of railways.

Balabhadra Majhi (BJD) asked the government to provide railway links in different parts of Odisha.

Bhagwant Mann (AAP) demanded more railway facilities and connectivity for Punjab.

Others who participated in the debate included Jayshreeben Patel (BJP), C L Ruala (Cong), Virendra Kashyap (BJP), Thokchom Meinya (Cong), Chandrakant Raghunath Patil (BJP), Santosh Ahlawat (BJP), Deepender Singh Hooda (Cong), and Hukum Singh, Daddan Mishra, Bhairon Prasad Mishra, Vinod Kumar Sonkar and Jugal Kishore Sharma (all BJP).


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