Rail Budget: Gowda Express is on right track

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Indian Railway
Modi Government presented its maiden Rail Budget on Tuesday in which mere 58 new trains were announced. It might be a big disappointment for many, who always lookout for new trains especially for their State, but Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda made it clear that the new dispensation is in no mood to put extra burden on the cash-strapped Railway.

The Budget clearly tells that the Modi Government wants to curb populism and will focus all its energy to make things more robust on the ground level. In short, the Government has put a roadmap to make Indian railways a world class one in coming years. The maiden Budget mainly concentrated on how to improve basic amenities for passengers including their safety and security.

The statement of Gowda that Railways must earn like private organisation and serve like social organization clearly shows that the Government wants to work for the welfare of the people rather than filling their own coffins. In an attempt to give fillip to Railways financial health, Minister talked about PPP model of investment. On the matter of corporate FDI which is the need of hour, Minister said that they will seek cabinet nod for both domestic and foreign investment so that infrastructural projects could be funded in a better way.

Since Independence we have added only 8, 000 kilometers new tracks

Modi Government emphasised on transforming the filthy stations into swanky ones and also vowed to provide better facilities in terms of safe food and water. 

This Budget also gave some bitter pills by saying that the fuel adjustment formula (FCP) will continue which will make fare rise within the period of six months. But people should understand that railway can't be financed with populism and tall promises. If facilities have to be availed then one has to bear the burden too.

"An institution like the railways cannot be run in an ad-hoc manner. Institutional mechanisms are required for decision-making, vision and initiatives," the Prime Minister said after the Budget. "The budget will speed up development, modernise railways and provide greater security and services," Modi said in a video message.

Worse Financial State
Financial health of Railway is in grim situation and it could be well understood with the fact that it has to spend 94 paisa for every rupee earned. While presenting Budget in Parliament, Gowda said an amount of Rs five lakh crores is needed for just for completion of pending projects. The Minister said, of the 676 projects sanctioned in last 30 years, which are worth Rs 157, 883, only 317 projects could be completed. 359 projects are still pending for their completion, funds of Rs 182, 000 crore are needed. This proves that the erstwhile Government did nothing to resuscitate the ailing rail networks and the populism of UPA has made things worse for the Indian Railway. UPA sanctioned Rs 60,000 crore for 99 new lines during 10 year of its rule but only one became a reality till date. In every Budget, Ministers announce numerous trains, lines and other freebies and do not care about the where the money will come from. But this time, Modi Government has made it clear that the Indian Railway will not suffer.

Once pride of India
Once a matter of pride, one of the largest railway network of world is in a dire state today. In the past 67 years, we have added only 8, 000 kilometers new tracks. In 1947 the figure was 55,000 kilometres and now it is 63,000 kilometers. If we compare this figure to China it is much less. Neighbour country had 27,000 route kilometres of track in 1947 which has now reached to mammoth 78,000.

Time has come one should make effort to make Indian Railways which was once India's pride world class. And for that, such tough measures are must. I heap full praise on Modi Government who has dared to walk the talk. Before this Budget, not even a single Minister except Trinamool congress's Dinesh Trivedi had shown guts to take things head on. Dinesh Trivedi was shunted before he could sneeze. All other Ministers used Indian railways like their private property and their only concern was to get maximum number of trains for their own state. They were least interested in getting things back on track.

New Railway Minister has made all effort to make the Indian railway one of the best one in world. This rail budget is really laudable and best part of it is the mix of reality and big dreams. All steps like initiatives on modernisation, the bullet trains, upgrading technology and improving food quality are really commendable.

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