Sunday, June 14, 2015


Debroy panel wants Railways to embrace liberalisation


Report a clear road map for privatisation, say unions

Precarious state:The Railways are facing severe financial crisis, NITI Aayog memberBibek Debroy has noted.— File Photo: Reuters
Precarious state:The Railways are facing severe financial crisis, NITI Aayog memberBibek Debroy has noted.— File Photo: Reuters
An official committee has recommended a whole set of reforms, including entry of private players into the Railways, and separation of offline activities from the core business.
Holding that the railway finances were in a precarious situation, the committee headed by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, said there was need not only to improve the internal resource generation and explore varied methods of financing but also increase utilisation of available resources.
Modi’s brainchild
The committee, a brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in its over 300-page report, said it did not recommend privatisation of the Railways. However, railway unions have attacked the report, saying it is a clear road map for privatisation, which would endanger safety and increase financial burden.
“It does, however, endorse private entry, which is not ab initio but ab hinc — as this is already part of the Indian Railway policy — with the proviso of an independent regulator.
“This committee prefers use of the word liberalisation and not privatisation or deregulation, as both the latter are apt to misinterpretation,” it said.
In a major recommendation, it proposed separation of activities like running of hospitals, schools, catering, real estate development, manufacturing of locomotives, coaches and wagons from the core business of running trains.
State governments should be asked to entirely fund the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the general managers should have the freedom to choose between private security guards and RPF for security on trains.
The panel recommended establishment of an independent regulator — Railway Regulatory Authority of India. — PTI
Unions feel the report is a clear road map for privatisation

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