Chandigarh, Feb 26: Punjab and Haryana chief ministers have welcomed the Rail Budget presented on Thursday by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, describing it as "people- friendly" and "development-oriented".
Hailing the budget as a visionary initiative towards strengthening the national transport system, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the decision to involve states to make Railways backbone of national connectivity would usher in a new era of cooperative federalism in the country.
The chief minister, in a statement, said the decision of introducing 'Perishable Cargo Centres' for farmers at important railway stations was a revolutionary step aimed at facilitating them.
Likewise, Badal said, the announcement on embarking Kisan Yatra, a special travel scheme to help farmers learn about new farming and marketing techniques, would also go a long way in bailing them out from the current agrarian crisis.
Badal said that for the first time in the history of the country thrust has been laid on cleanliness, hygiene, comfort, accessibility, service quality and speed of trains.
Welcoming the proposal to develop 'Satellite Railway Terminals' in major cities with the twin purpose of decongesting the areas as well as providing service to passengers residing in suburbs, he said most of the railway terminals in big cities were located in highly congested areas and this step would help in ensuring planned and integrated development of cities.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar termed the Rail Budget as pro-passenger. "Besides sparing the passengers of fare hike, several facilities have also been introduced for their convenience," Khattar said.
The budget is more reformative and sensible than populist and aimed at bringing major changes for making travelling in the Indian Railways more comfortable, he said.
He lauded the railway minister's announcement for formation of joint ventures with states. This will enable the states like Haryana to construct new railway lines by raising funds, he said adding the Haryana government had already sent a proposal for signing an MoU with the Ministry of Railways in this regard.