A passenger-friendly budget, says Mamata

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New Delhi, Feb 25 (PTI) Describing Rail Budget 2011-12as "environment and passenger-friendly", Railway MinisterMamata Banerjee today said it has addressed all issues.

"Whether passenger related issues or environment relatedor for that matter any thing...every isssue is dealt with. Thebudget is passenger-friendly, environment-friendly," she toldPTI.

Describing the year 2011-12 as the "Year of GreenEnergy" in her budget, Mamata has proposed to upgrade 442stations as Adarsh stations (model junctions), setting upbudget hotels at 45 locations and launching a new portal fore-ticketing among others.

Asked about the logic behind not raising passengerfares, she said there are issues like cleanliness, quality offood being served in trains and other issues concerning railpasengers. "We should increase the fares only after improvingthese services," she said.

Railways have not increased the passenger fares for theeighth year in a row though diesel prices have gone up from Rs18 to Rs 36 in these years.

However, Mamata said railways have business plans forfuture growth. "There is a demand for more coaches, wagons andlocomotives," she said.

On the PPP projects, she said it will take some time asthis is a challenging area.

Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahai said,"We are movingvery cautiously on the PPP model Keeping in mind everyone''sinterest."

He said that the committee set up to examine the PPPmodel would not in any way delay project executions.

"We are just checking up and we are ensuring nothing isjust compromised," Sahai said.

Railway Financial Commissioner Samar Jha said that theywere able to improve the financial position due to austeritydrives and improved earnings towards the end of the financialyear.

He said railways would also raise Rs 10,000 crorethrough tax free bonds which would be utilised in bankableprojects with good returns.

Sahai on the other hand said 16,000 ex-servicemen whoare to be inducted into railways by March would be absorbedinto different departments.

Observing that railway finances had suffer due toagitations and obstruction of train movement, he said theorganisation would have achieved Rs 5,000 crore more asearnings.

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