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IMC lauds Rail Budget, but says not enough done for Mumbai

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Mumbai, Feb 24 (UNI) The Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC) has welcomed the Railway Budget 2006 presented today by Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Describing it as one that ''has given an effective push to the economic reform process,'' IMC president Rajesh Kapadia appreciated the move of the Railway Ministry to go in for more public-private participation in developing rail infrastructure and creating a transparent mechanism for awarding of railway projects through open-bidding.

However, while saying that the budget overall was exemplary, Mr Kapadia lamented the fact that it did not provide enough for Mumbai.

''It should have provided more for Mumbai than it has, as Mumbai has unique transportation problems,'' he said.

Meanwhile, he said, ''The Rail Budget provides for a dedicated freight corridor for goods trains, a demand, which has been long pending'' and added that the decision of the Railway Minister to not raise the freight rates ''will render stability to industrial costs in the present competitive times.'' Welcoming the reduction in freight rates for diesel and gasoline by eight per cent, he pointed out that this would help check inflationary pressures in the economy.

''Most importantly, Mr Lalu Prasad's third budget focuses on the 'aam aadmi' (common man) by sparing him or her of any hike in passenger fares,'' he said.

He also said, the introduction of many new trains, provision of a number of facilities like ATM and cyber cafes at all stations, promoting employment through the 'Jan Sadharan' ticket booking scheme and employment opportunities for the backward classes through a special recruitment drive were all welcome features of this railway budget.

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