New Delhi, Feb 26: Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today came down heavily on the Left and Opposition members for disrupting his budget speech, saying that such a ''negative'' attitude was going to achieve nothing.
''I don't give anything out of my pocket. Everything has to be discussed studied and approved by the Planning Commission,' said Mr Prasad when asked about the protests that had marred the presentation of the Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha. ''If one has any grievance, one should submit the objections instead of shouting as things don't work like that in government,'' he told a press conference this afternoon. Mr Prasad claimed that the Budget for 2008-09 was a historic budget as it had brought relief to the common man, and to women in particular.
''We have achieved a cash surplus of Rs 25000 crore, with a total revenue of Rs 73,000 cr this year, and the revenue target for next year was Rs 83,000 crore,'' he said.
Mr Prasad said the Railways have every year been adding something new to make travel more convenient for passengers, and it was with this in view that 53 new trains, and 10 Gharib raths had been introduced and frequencies of various others had been increased.
Highlighting other ''pro-common man'' features of his Budget, he said he had also introduced a reduction of of Rs one per passenger for fares up to Rs 50, in non-suburban second class trains, both express and mail.
Besides, there was a five per cent reduction in freight rates for petrol and diesel in view of the recent increases in their price, a step that would bring much relief to public, he said.
The government has also decided to have Minority Cell in the Railway Board, said Mr Prasad.
Stressing that Railways have been maintaining a record of consistent growth for the last four years, he said the formalities regarding the dedicated freight corridors had been completed, and the work will begin soon.
Replying to a question on progress of Railways in the hill areas, he said the work in jammu and Kashmir for the National Railway project was going on and the 109 km stretch from Anantnag to Barmulla will be opened in June.
As regards extension of rail to Uttarakhand, he said the terrain lies in difficult hill areas, for which a lot of funds had to be mobilised.
To another question, he said it was wrong to say that he had discriminated against some regions in extension and improvement of Railway services.