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Lalu's please-all Budget has something for every section

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) The please-all Railway Budget 2006-07 holds out something for every section --the poor, commonman, farmers, upper middle-class which is steadily graduating from rail to air travel, business community, disabled people, SCs/STs and soldiers.

While there is a ''Garib Rath'' scheme for the poor under which eight fully air-conditioned trains (four pairs) will be run with fares 25 per cent lower than AC-III tier fares, there is a steep cut in the AC class fare to lure the upper-middle class back to trains.

The 50 per cent concession, announced in the last Budget, in second class fares to farmers and milk producers for travel to institutes of national level in other parts of the country for the purpose of training/learning better agricultural practices and dairy farming, is being extended to the sleeper class also.

There is a 50 per cent concession in second class and sleeper class fares to persons who have lost their limbs in accidents or due to any other causes, for travel to institutes of national level, for transplantation of artificial limbs like Jaipur Foot along with one attendant.

The commonman alias ''aam aadmi,'' who mostly uses the monthly season tickets, will have 10 days to renew their passes, instead of three days at present, and pay one-fourth of the current superfast charges applicable on MSTS and QSTS.

Above all, generally there is no increase in passenger fares and this is happening for the third year in a row, ever since the UPA came to power and Mr Lalu Prasad became Railway Minister.

The businessman can also have a sigh of relief as there will be no across the board increase in freight rates and goods tariff will be rationalised further and the number of commodity groups will be reduced from 80 to 28.

Oil marketing companies, which were allowed by the Cabinet yesterday to issue oil companies to tide over the mis-match between the rising prices in the international market and the stable retail rates, will have to pay 8 per cent less freight for diesel and petrol.

Tariff fixation mechanism for military traffic will be rationalised and simplified.

Passengers can cut travel time as over 200 mail and express trains will be made superfast.

Ticket availability problem is expected to ease as more coaches will be added to about 190 popular trains.

Maximum age limit extended by a year for SC/ST/Backward Class categories candidates seeking employment with the Railways.

The Minister has also taken care to please each and every state as all regions will be covered by the 55 new trains, 37 route-extended trains and 12 frequency-enhanced trains.

UNI SN SS RK1725

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