The Congress on Wednesday questioned the government’s move to merge the Railway Budget with the Union Budget saying the Centre was more focused on gimmickry than quality of services.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, though there was nothing wrong with the move administratively, the government should clarify what it was doing to improve the service of the national transporter and improve its financial health.
“Would the government clarify why the fares for some trains would be increased as part of surge pricing policy? What about providing funds to the cash starved railways,” he told Business Standard.
He said large number of poor people use the rail services and there was a lot of room for improvement when it comes to passenger safety and adding capacity to the network.
The union cabinet decided that after 92 years, there will be no Railway Budget next year as it would be merged with the Union Budget.
Singhvi supported the Centre’s move to advance the Union Budget by a few weeks, saying there was nothing wrong in it. The government is also planning to advance the Budget session of Parliament to facilitate the same.
“Technically there would be nothing wrong in advancing the union budget. However, the government must ensure that the work of the various parliamentary standing committees, which examine the budgets of various ministries, must be completed before March 31,” he said.
Congress leaders further said the government aimed at mopping up around Rs 1000 crore through surge pricing while burning a hole in the pockets of the middle class.
Recalling railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s budget speech in February, Congress communication chief Randeep Surjewala said though he promised a freight growth target of 850 MT basing it on the expected 8-9percent GDP growth and increased coal traffic, the reality was that the freight growth remained flat at April/December, 2014 levels at 816 MT during the same period this year.The government has been single-mindedly pursuing the agenda of privatising railways, under the garb of corporatisation, he alleged.