New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) Former Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Wednesday criticised the Narendra Modi government’s move to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget, saying it will erode the Railways’ importance.
“The importance of the railways goes away when you don’t have a separate budget. If you are not going have a Railway Budget, then why do yo have a Railway Ministry,” asked Trivedi, who was Railways Minister during the UPA government.
“Railways can make indirect contribution to the GDP but per se, every railway in the world runs in losses, even the Swiss railway. This simple thing governments, including this (Modi) government, has not understood,” Trivedi from the Trinamool Congress, told CNBC-TV18.
Observing that successive governments have failed to understand the strength of the Railways, Trivedi questioned why the carrier has to pay yearly dividend to the general exchequer for the budgetary support.
“Railways requires investment, it’s a stupid thing to pay dividends when the Finance Ministry is giving money to Railways, why should Railways pay dividend?
“It is one of the best organisations. It is very easy to dismantle something but very difficult to create something,” added Trivedi.
Speaking in the same vein, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the move is a step towards privatisation of the railways.
“The move takes away the autonomy of the Railways which is the country’s biggest transport mode catering to the common people. This is nothing but a step towards privatising the railways,” Chowdhury, who was Minister of State for Railways in the UPA II regime, told IANS.
“Citing lame reasons, this government has jeopardised the separate entity of the Railways. If by merging the budgets the government thinks it can revive the Railways’ fortune, then it is living in a fool’s world,” added Chowdhury.