Lok Sabha discusses railways’ demand for grants

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) The Lok Sabha on Tuesday took up for discussion the demand for grants by the railways for the 2016-17 fiscal, with the Congress demanding more rationalisation in the functioning of the railways.

Responding to the debate, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said moves were on to restructure the Indian Railways.

He said restructuring will be ensured to bring about more efficiency, adding that it cannot be achieved without cooperation from all.

Prabhu said the theme of this year’s rail budget was to bring the railways back on track and assured that the government was taking steps regarding the safety aspect.

Earlier, the Congress criticised the government for what it said was indulging in gimmicks and said more rationalisation in the railways functioning was needed.

Initiating the debate, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge opposed the proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and said that the huge funds earmarked for the project could have been diverted to areas where there’s need for better communication.

He said the ambitious project will be implemented at a cost of Rs.1 lakh crore, implying that each km of track will cost Rs.200 crore.

Kharge, who was railway minister for a short period, said the government was only indulging in gimmicks.

Moreover, he said, a study by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad said the bullet train can be economically feasible only if there were 100 trips daily.

Kharge said 64 people died in railway accidents in 2015-16, higher than 54 in 2013-14.

He said the government had in 2015 announced setting up of a ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanrakshan Kosh’ of Rs.1 lakh crore. “I want to know how much fund has come and how much has been spent on passenger safety,” the Congress leader said.

Kharge accused the Centre of not releasing funds for a metro project in Bengaluru in Karnataka.

Participating in the debate, Yogi Adityanath of the Bharatiya Janata Party said the railway budget for the first time rose above political considerations.

“This year’s rail budget has given a roadmap for taking the railways forward,” Adityanath said.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav appreciated the railways for according priority to completion of certain pending projects.

He, however, wanted steps to be taken to start a train service between Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai.

Tapas Mandal (Trinamool Congress), Biju Janata Dal member Rabindra Kumar Jena, Shrirang Appe Barne of the Shiv Sena were among those who also participated in the discussion.

–IANS

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