LS takes up Demand For Grants for Railways: Adhir lays emphasis on fund mobilisation

NEW DELHI, July 11: Lok Sabha on Thursday took up the discussion on Demands for Grants for Railways with Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury making critical observation on the Modi Government’s approach towards the ministry.
Initiating the discussion, Mr Chowdhury said the Centre seems to be serious about bullet trains but did not bother much about the freight trains.
“We were trying to improve the freight services,” he said, adding that the UPA Government started the dedicated freight corridors.
Mr Chowdhury, who was Minister of State for Railways under Manmohan Singh for a brief period, counseled Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to provide funds to West Bengal for railway works.
“BJP is keen to make political entry….for that you must do railway works. When you have railways, you can easily reach Bengal,” Mr Chowdhury said making a veiled reference to ongoing political battle cry between the saffron party and Trinamool Congress in the state.
However, Mr Chowdhury, a known critic of Mamata Banerjee fell short of making any reference to the functioning of the State Government even as Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay and his other colleagues gave a patient hearing to the Congress leader.
Mr Chowdhury maintained that the railways had social commitment and thus the Government had the responsibility to bear the social obligation. Seeking to suggest new steps for improvement of Indian Railways, Mr Chowdhury said the tendency to depend more on ‘borrowings’ should be given up and more emphasis should be given to internal resource mobilisation.
He said the Modi government was carrying out privatisation and corporatisation of Railways.
He questioned the government that how will it raise Rs 50 lakh crore, as announced in the Budget for railways.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 in his constituency Varanasi announced that Railways will never be privatised, yet the government was pursuing the policy of Public Private Partnership.
Many MoUs and MoCs with Russia, Japan and China were announced by this government but nothing was executed, Mr Chowdhury said, adding that “it has become MoU ki sarkar” .
The Operating Ratio has come down during the NDA Government, he claimed.
“Railways failed to do substantive work under the NDA Government. The Operating Ratio has come down to 98.4 per cent in 2017-18,” he said.
There was steady increase in cancellation of trains and deadlines for construction of 334 dedicated freight corridors were being extended, the Congress leader said.
He also questioned the government on why profit earning factories were being corporatised. Last week, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also raised the bogey of corporatisation of Railways during her Zero Hour submission.
Citing data, he also said punctuality of trains has become more erratic and the promises of bio-toilets also remained unfulfilled.
BJP fielded Sunil Kumar Singh, the lawmaker fro Jharkhand’s Chatra constituency, who said the Modi Government has taken a number of long term and visionary steps to improve the functioning of the railways.
Mr Singh also referred to the Railway Budget presented by Mamata Banerjee in the past and said out over 260 projects announced by her – hardly a few could make headway.
“I will request the Railway Minister (Piyush Goyal) to put things on record and give a detailed clarification on the fate of those projects when he replies,” Mr Singh said.
Sudip Bandyopadhyay of Trinamool Congress raised the issue of regional imbalances in undertaking Railway projects vis-a-vis West Bengal and other parts of Eastern India. (UNI)