Lalu to meet PM to discuss price hike of iron, steel

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New Delhi, Apr 22 (UNI) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today announced in the Rajya Sabha that the railways would not transport wheat consignments of private traders and said he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to highlight how the spiralling prices of iron, steel and cement are hitting rail projects.

''Notwithstanding the loss that the railways would incur, it will carry wheat only from FCI godowns on a priority basis to strengthen the Public Distribution System,'' Mr Prasad said, replying to the debate on the Railway Appropriation Bill.

Defending his decision, the minister said such a measure was imperative to rein in the spiralling prices of essential commodities.

''The Railways is already carrying iron, steel and petroleum products on subsidised rates. But the steep hike in prices of iron, steel and cement can impact adversely on several railway projects as contractors are unwilling to work in view of the price rise ,'' he said.

''I will be meeting the Prime Minister soon to highlight this problem and seek a solution. Otherwise, a number of railway projects will start languishing,'' he told the House as Finance Minister P Chidambaram heard him in rapt attention.

The bill, already approved by the Lok Sabha, was later passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha and returned to the Lower House.

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