Kolkata, Feb 26 (UNI) Congratulating Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, chambers of commerce and trade bodies today described the Railway budget for 2008-09 as 'progressive and innovative'.
While observing that the five per cent cut on freight rates for petrol and diesel could curb the 'rising menace' of inflation, the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) also welcomed the five per cent across the board reduction of passenger fares.
The Chamber also observed that 'significant' steps had been taken for improving railway infrastructure and passenger comfort.
" The budget is progressive. It would be beneficial for Aam Aadmi and boost infrastructure and business, " the Chamber said.
ICC felt the Rs 75,000 crore, kept for infrastructure, will give a big thrust to businesses and organisations involved in the railway business.
The moves, including renewal of old rail tracks, upgradation of platforms, establishment of multi-level parking at 30 major stations and lowering freight rates for Northeastern states would increase the efficiency in transportation of goods and overall logistical mechanism.
Observing that Mr Lalu Prasad deserved appreciation for presenting an innovative budget, Bharat Chamber of Commerce president P R Agarwala said the Rs 25,000 crore surplus of the Railway would make the Railways more efficient and cost effective, while the thrust over infrastructure was praisworthy.
He said the freight rate policy, presentecd in the budget, would boost movement of iron and steel, while introduction of 53 new trains and extension of service of 16 trains were steps in the right direction.
Bengal National Chamber of Commerce president K K Navada said the Railway Minister properly tapped the unutilised the unutilised property for earnings and also enhanced the level of productivity in railways.
Introduction of East-West Corridor Project and assurance of providing better rail network for West Bengal port were also steps in right direction, he said.
Though describing the overall budget proposals as 'pragmatic', Federation of West Bengal Trade Associations said the problems like harassment of passengers and lack of security in the railway had not been addressed in the budget.
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