Railway budget fails to meet TN expectations: Jaya

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Chennai, Feb 25: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today welcomed initiatives announced in the Railway Budget like a Rail Auto hub here and nil increase in fares, but said it has however failed to meet the expectations of the people of the state on the whole.

She said the first ever Rail Auto Hub to be set up here would cement the city's position as a major automobile manufacturing centre.

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"I am happy that the Railway Minister has spared the common person and not levied any increase in the rail fares," the chief minister said.

She also welcomed the announcement of the Delhi-Chennai (north-south) dedicated freight corridor, but said it and the one proposed on East Coast, terminating in Vijayawada, "ought to have been extended" to Thoothukudi (in Tamil Nadu).

"This would have fulfilled Tamil Nadu's long standing request to create a Chennai-Thoothukudi dedicated freight corridor," Jayalalithaa said in a statement. She thanked the Railway Minister for upgradation of Nagapattinam and Velankanni stations and urged that similar steps be taken for pilgrim centres like Rameswaram.

Hailing enhancement of passenger amenities, she said measures to improve redressal mechanisms were positive, too.

However, service quality and grievance redressal to the common man who may not be digitally literate nor owning a smart phone should also be ensured, the chief minister said.

She said the Railway Minister seemed to have been "buffeted by the headwinds" facing him in terms of the overall slowdown in the international economy and the possible impact of the Seventh Pay Commission.

With the Railway capital expenditure expected to be stepped up substantially to Rs 1.21 lakh crore, it was "surprising that no specific projects" was announced, including several projects in Tamil Nadu which she had requested. She said no specific plans for upgradation of suburban transit system in Chennai was a "major omission."

As regards "new structures", it was unfortunate that only a "token consultation" was held with states before finalising the draft MOU which "lacks clarity".

"The present structure where 75 per cent of the equity and the entire land cost are to be met by the states, with all control with the Ministry of Railways, is simply unacceptable," she said.

Jayalalithaa said her government was prepared to engage with the Railway Ministry on reworking the MoU to ensure a more balanced and acceptable draft. "On the whole, the Railway Budget has failed to meet the expectations of the people of Tamil Nadu.

With no new trains and no new railway lines announced, the budget belied the sense of expectation," she said.

PTI 

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