Latest News

July 22, 2014

Trinamool walks out of RS to protest against Rail Minister`s reply on the Budget

Trinamool walks out of RS to protest against Rail Minister`s reply on the Budget

Trinamool walked out of Rajya Sabha today in protest against the Rail Minister's reply on the Budget, passenger/freight fare hike, deprivation of Bengal.

The Chief Whip of Trinamool Congress in theRajya Sabha, Derek O`Brien earlier today spoke on the Railway Budget 2014. At the veryoutset he shared an anecdote about a family that has served the Indian Railwaysfor generations. He lamented that for the first time in 30 years, the RailMantri did not thank the Railway family in the Budget speech.

Mr O`Brien contested the claim of theGovernment that the deficit in passenger fare collection was about Rs 30000crore. He said if all heads were taken into account, the figure would stand atRs 7-8 thousand crore.

“If you are serious about reforms, look atthe passenger fares distribution. The heads under which passenger fares arestill calculated, were formulated in the 1920s. 95% of the passenger fares havenothing to do with Rajdhani or Shatabdi,” Derek said.

“The Minister talked about China a lot. Hemust know China does not touch base fares. In China, Govt funds major projects,”he added.

He also said that while the Leader ofOpposition said this Railway Budget was a copy paste of the 2013 Budget, the2013 Budget was a copy-paste of the Budgets presented by Railway Ministers fromTrinamool. He cited examples too. Bullet trains, for instance, were mentionedin the Vision 2020 document by Mamata Banerjee, Derek said.

“There is no dilemma in choosing betweensocial viability and commercial viability. Social viability comes first. If youdon`t want to do populism, why did you announce 58 new trains, which wouldrequire 1000 new wagons?” he asked.

Mr O`Brien was vocal about the disparity inbudgetary allocations for the projects in Bengal. “The Railway Ministerallocated Rs 1000 for a Rs 176 crore project at Adra. For a Rs 100 croreproject at Kharagpur, you allocated Rs 1000” Derek said.

Bengal does not want alms from the Centre,Derek said while elucidating how the Railway Minister allocated a paltry sum ofRs 500 crore for Kolkata Metro projects worth Rs 10000 crore. He also made itclear that Trinamool was against FDI in Railways. He cautioned the Rail Mantriagainst linking fares to diesel hikes.

Regarding freight, Derek shared somesuggestions with the government. He urged them not to consider roads as acompetitor, but to treat them as partners in freight. He suggested the RORO(Roll On Roll Off) model.

On the security front, Mr O`Brienhighlighted the importance of anti-collision devices. He also urged thegovernment to ensure the safety of elephants in the Jalpaiguri-Alipurduarcorridor.