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Railway Budget will increase its revenues: ASSOCHAM

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) Business chambers (ASSOCHAM) today complimented Railways Minister Lalu Prasad for presenting a 'pragmatic' and user-friendly budget for 2006-07, which will not only augment its revenues but also attract larger traffic for it.

Industry President Anil K Agarwal, in a statement here, said ''Mr Prasad has adopted a business-like approach before coming out with budget proposals for 2006-07 as for the first time, the railway finances have witnessed a growth from Rs 250 crore in 2001 to Rs 11,000 crore in 2005 which is a major turnaround.'' Internal resources of railways have improved a great deal and the Minister has been able to rope in private sector participation for the betterment of railway services through introduction of public-private partnership, the Chamber said.

The Chambers appreciated announcements like privatisation of container services from April 1, 2006, private participation in the upkeep of railway services and a long-term freight discount scheme.

''Huge allocations for the dedicated freight corridor are welcome, as that will give a large fillip to railway services and lead to their betterment,'' Mr Agarwal said.

The announcement of the Railway Minister for allocating Rs 23,000 crore for plan expenditure of railways is also a welcome feature as it will lead to modernisation and upgradation of not only railway services but its finances also, he added.

However, the Chambers felt that the Railway Minister should have come out with some measures for leasing out thousands of acres of land that lay unutilised across the railway tracks all over the country for its commercial use.

''It has been the demand of the Indian industry for very long that the government should come out with measures for commercial use of such land and the Railway Minister has lost an opportunity again for not ensuring that the idle land be put to commercial use,'' Mr Agarwal added.

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