March 24, 2022
Jawhar Sircar’s speech during the discussion on the working of the Ministry of Railways
Sir, I thank you for this opportunity …(Interruptions)… Sir, I thank you for this opportunity to make just a few short points on the Railway Budget. …(Interruptions)… The first thing that I would like to draw the hon. Railway Minister’s attention…(Interruptions)… आप मेरा समय क्यों बरबाद कर रहेहैं? The first thing that I would like to draw the
attention of the hon. Railway Minister, who has a wide background of administration, is that half the railway passengers in India on a daily-basis are just from three suburban railways. The three suburban railways constitute half the daily passengers of India. With this in mind, if half the passengers or even 45 per cent of the passengers are suburban passengers of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and others, they have never got even one per cent of the Railway Budget. They go packed like animals, they hang out like birds. This sort of a shameful treatment of suburban railway passengers must end during your tenure, Mr. Railway Minister. You can take a look at that. So that is the first point I am making that suburban railways have always been neglected except in very brief periods. So please look at suburban railways as a special project. The problem is, though he has one of the finest cadres of traffic, accounts, mechanical, electrical, one of the finest cadres, yet most of them consider suburban railways to be a pain, to be unprofitable. Now you cannot have profitability everywhere. We don’t have profitability in MGNREGA. We don’t have profitability in ‘Food for Work’, in food aid. So, treat it as a social sector project. My first request is,
you will be catering, in one stroke, to 50 per cent of the daily passengers of India. Please take a fresh look at it.
The second point I would like to make is NMP. The National Monetization Pipeline scheme is a cloud wrapped within an enigma, wrapped within a mystery. Please come out transparently. Railways are too important and too risky to be leased out even for a short while to private profiteers. You are talking of leasing 1,400 kms. I cannot travel in a Rajdhani wondering whether the next 100 kms. of tracks are being maintained by a profiteer. Please, please clarify, where you are doing it, on what grounds you are doing it. Every feet of railway line has to be
maintained and they are doing a splendid job out of it, but in spite of that, accidents happen. So please be careful; Railways are the lifeline of India. Before you lease out anything of the railways, please be more transparent.
Let it be in the public domain. Your Budget is Rs.1.5 lakh crores. Your net worth is more than the Government of India’s Budget. You are an aristocratic department, come out transparently. Don’t play behind screens. So my second point is on NMP. You are leasing out 400 stations. Which 400 stations? Who is in-charge of what? Who is in-charge of signaling? Who is in-charge of delays? Who is in-charge of other things? The Railways are the heart of the administration of India. Do not play around with it. If you have to lease, if you have to earn money, build supermarkets over railway stations of urban areas which is within your control. It is not like a gas pipeline from one end to the other that you lease out. Railways are just too risky. So before we fall for this NMP game, which is, as I said, a mystery within a mystery within a mystery, please come out with facts. One of the hon. Members has said a lot of negative things about Ms. Mamata Banerjee as Railway Minister. I don’t want to get into all that. All I am saying is that she had a vision statement made by professionals when she was here. The second statement is that she knows what the people want. Otherwise, she could not be getting elected again and again. Have a look at that statement! Last point that I would like to make is that when you lease out, you are leasing out the pride of India, the Heritage Railways. The Heritage Railways are like the jewels of India. How you can lease out your own jewels, the Darjeeling
Railways! First of all, it is under sad state of neglect. वो क्या सपनों की रानी and all that. It is in a sad state of neglect as it is. What will a private company do there! It requires infrastructural investment. So, you lease out jewels like the
Darjeeling heritage Railway, Shimla heritage Railway, even the Konkan Railway, which is one of the pride of the Indian Railways. Why are you going in for that? This * about earning Rupees Six lakh crores from this and that can come about but not from selling off family silver. Don’t sell off our lives, our safety, and our lifeline for a few coins of silver, Mr. Minister. And, my ultimate point, Sir, I won’t encroach on your time. One fact is not told to you and to most people. There are people who require a small machine to be plugged in while travelling on the train, for breathing, CPAP, BiPAP; somebody mentioned bronchial, I think Vasan saheb mentioned. So, there are the machines which need very low power consumption. You Ministry cut off the line every half-an-hour which destroys the machine. Your light is on, your fan is on; why can’t that plug point be on? I mean, I have not been able to understand. I spoke to half-a-dozen people. So, please remember these points that the life-saving poin which is just a plug point in your compartment, let it be on. I wound up by complementing you. You come with a wide experience. The Budget is good. Your part of the Budget is good. But, please come back to suburban passengers who are being
treated like second-class, third-class citizens and animals. Please reconsider your part in the National Monetization Pipeline. Please reconsider the Heritage Railways. Thank you very much and bless you.