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52 new trains. No fare hikes: Mamta presents Railway Budget with Vision 2020
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 03:31:46 PM, Agencies
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New Delhi: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday presented the ''Railway Budget 2010'' in the parliament saying, her ministry has come out with ''Vision 2020'' to modernise the railway network.
"I prefer social responsibility to economic responsibility and Our objective is inclusive growth", she said in her marathon 110-minute speech.
Banerjee said, the railways need to catch up with the advanced western nations, adding that the policy guidelines would be made easier and hassle-free.
Railways will not be privatized, she said, adding that in the next five years the whiole country would be connected by rail.
At the same time, Banerjee called on the India Inc to build partnership with the Railways.
Meanwhile, passengers were spared a fare hike, freight rates were lowered for some essential items and 52 new trains announced in India’s rail budget for 2010-11 that promises a new model to promote private investment in expanding the world’s second largest railroad network under a single management.
“We have saved Rs.2,000 crore ($40 million) because of the hard work of our employees and austerity measures. There will be no increase in passenger fares,” Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee told the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
Accordingly, she also announced a cut in freight tariff for kerosene and grain, upgrade of 94 stations, 522 diagnostic centres, target of 1,000 km new lines, 10 auto ancillary hubs, several high-speed passenger rail corridors, six new drinking water plants and housing for all railway staff in 10 years.
“We have set our goals in the Vision 2020 document and we will achieve it,” the minister said, referring to the document unveiled in December that has targeted making over 30,000 km of routes into double or multiple lines against 18,000 km today.
“It is a fact that administrative and procedural delays discourage potential investors. We will need to overcome this. I am setting up a special task force for this,” said the minister, dressed in a white and green sari and her trademark rubber slippers.
“Special structure will be created for the new business model,” she said, emphasising: “But we will not privatise railways. Indian Railways will remain with the government.”
At the same time, she also asked the private sector to refrain from what she called the “typical negative approach” while dealing with the Indian Railways. “I am sorry to say this — this mindset has to change.
The minister also announced that the exams for the recruitment in Railway would be conducted in the regional languages as well, adding that English, Hindi, Urdu and other regional languages will be used for Railway entrance exams.
Banerjee said that we have kept our earlier promises and out of 120 trains that were proposed by our ministry, 107 trains were started on time.
She announced that six-bottling points would be set for manufacture of water that will be supplied, adding that the food that is provided to the passengers has also improved over the years.
Village panchayats, hospitals and court would have a e-ticket counter proposed Banerjee, adding that a railway counter would also be set up at the office of the District Magistrate.
Railway is all determined to ensure safety measures, she claimed adding that a ''chowkidaar'' would be placed at every railway crossing in the next five years.
Cleanliness of the railway has improved over the years, claimed Banerjee adding that Rs 1302 crores would be spent for the safety of passengers.
Railways would also set up five sports academy, she said adding that it would become link partners of the Commonwealth Games.
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