No trains in the current budget and amenities get big boost
GN Bureau | February 26, 2015
Even while invoking the almighty ‘prabhu’ on bring his ministry back on rails; Suresh Prabhu unveiled a five-point programme on reforms and governance.
As he presented the railway budget for 2015 Prabhu announced the operating ratio target of 88.5 per cent for the next fiscal. “I asked, Hey Prabhu! How will all this happen,” the minister said during the beginning of his budget speech to the amusement of those in attendance.
Operating ratio is the amount of money spent to earn every Rs 100 and is a key indicator of railways financial health. The operating ratio target for the current financial year was 91.8 per cent.
Prabhu said his ministry will work on five key “drivers of action” – adopting a medium term perspective planning including a new White Paper; building partnerships with PSUs and funding agencies; Leveraging funding opportunities including Pension Funds; revamping management practices and systems; and setting standards for governance and transparency.
The rail ministry will spend over Rs 8.5 lakh crore over the next five years in a host of areas including capacity augmentation, modernization, passenger amenities and safety but will not hike passenger fares, Prabhu announced, highlighting the political sensitivity associated with tinkering with railway fares.
For a change the minister resisted the temptation to announce new trains or extension of services in his budget for 2015-16. He also did not increase passenger fares.
This is perhaps the first time in many years that the railways have not announced any new train in the budget. The minister however assured his colleagues in parliament that he will take requests from all MPs over the next few days and review them before announcing any new train.
Prabhu also announced a slew of passenger facilities including mobile application for complaints, water vending machines in major stations, CCTVs cameras in some long-distance trains and EMUs.
The railway minister also announced that surplus coaches from trains which are running on low capacity will be rationalised and added on lines which have high density.
Meanwhile, the daily passenger capacity of Indian railways is projected to increase from 21 million to 31 million in the next one-year, while freight capacity is expected to jump 50% from 1 billion tonnes to 1.5 billion tonnes.
Freight rates were, however, hiked in general barring high-speed diesel which was lowered by 1%. Rates were hiked by 0.8% for LPG, kerosene, 0.8% for iron & steel; 2.7% for cement, 10% for urea and 6.3% for coal.
The government has accorded in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of three units of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), a Maharatna PSU, namely Visveswaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP), Bhadravati, Salem Steel Plant (SSP), Tamil Nadu and Alloy Steel Plant (ASP), Durgapur.
Indian parties do not choose their politicians with a view to what the world might conclude, but there is no denying the signal Yogi Adityanath’s pick sends: with a huge mandate, the BJP has decided to lead with the face of religious nationalism—not the forward-looking, twe
Here is a proposition: Narendra Modi is the top thinker, the top intellectual of our times. Is that an exaggerated claim? Not altogether. Here’s why. After Brexit and after Trump, intellectuals, especially in the west, are busy guessing what exactly is going on in the world, what
Do you think campaigning by UP CM Yogi Adityanath in Delhi civic polls will boost BJP`s victory chances?
Almost a week ago, Finance Bill, 2017, was passed in the Lok Sabha as a money bill in the midst of a walk out by the opposition. In the 92-page document of the bill, centre has pushed 40 amendments to various acts including the IT Act. Eminent people like Fali Nariman, Girish Karnad, TM Krishna, Arun
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), a Maharatna PSU, has successfully commissioned 250 MW unit based on eco-friendly circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) technology, using low grade coal (lignite) as the primary fuel. The 250 MW lignite