JD(U) criticises Lalu on surcharge for Railway Development

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Patna, Feb 10 (UNI) The JD(U) today said Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's decision to collect surcharge from the passengers '' in guise of Railway Development Fund'' was ''illegal'' as it was being done without any provision made in the Railway Budget presented last year.

In a release issued here, JD(U)'s national spokesman Shivanand Tiwari said a committee headed by Justice H R Khanna had suggested in 2001 for imposing the surcharge on train passengers to mop up the funds for taking safety measureas to ensure smooth and safe journey of the passengers.

The ''safety fund'' was to be spent for maintenance and improvement of the tracks, signalling systems, culverts and bridges that waned away with the passage of time, he added.

''The Justice Khanna Commission had recommended for raising the Railway safety funds of Rs 17000 crore, of which Rs 12000 crore was to be provided by the Centre while rest amount was to be mopped up as surcharge from the train passengers,'' the JD(U) leader said, adding, the then Railway Minister Nitish Kumar had made the provision of imposing the surcharge on passengers in his railway budget.

''The period of realising surcharge was to lapse in March 2007 itself but the present Railway Minister extended it further under the new nomenclature of Railway Safety Funds,'' he said, adding, it was his attempt to juggle with the figures to project the ''exaggerated profit of Railways''.

''Even the Standing Committee of Parliament on Railways headed by CPI(M) member Basudev Acharya had also raised an objection on continuance of surcharge under the new nomenclature,'' Mr Tiwari pointed out.

UNI KKS PC GL PM1810

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