BJP calls Railway Budget 'ordinary'
New Delhi, Feb 26 : India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday criticised the Railway Budget 2013-14 presented by Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday and called it an 'ordinary' one.
"This is a very ordinary budget presented by him (Bansal)..It lacks focus," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters here.
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, however, appreciated the budget called it a 'remarkable and commendable' one.
"I think it is a remarkable and commendable budget," Chidambaram told reporters here.
Bansal did not propose any increase in passenger fare while presenting the Railway Budget 2013-14 in the Parliament.
He said since on Jan 22 this year the fare was hiked he does not pass on additional burden and an impact of Rs 850 crore owing to that would be absorbed by the Railways.
Bansal suggested a 5 percent average increase for freight charges.
He hiked reservation charges for superfast trains along with tatkal charges.
He announced concessional travel for sportspersons.
Bansal said any rise in fare should not be viewed as profit generation, adding that it is for safety and cleanliness and better overall facilities.
He promised mountain rails in India like in Austrian and Swiss Alps and also introduction of luxury coaches.
He said Rs 3,000 crore loan from Finance Ministry was re-paid with interest by Railways.
He also announced new coach manufacturing and maintenance facilities in places like Rae Bareli, Bhilwara, Sonepat, Kalahandi, Kolar, Palakkad and Pratapgarh.
"I propose 67 new express trains, 27 passenger trains, 5 EMU services, 8 MEMU services and 58 trains will be extended," he said.
The Minister envisaged an investment of Rs 63360 core in 2014.
Earlier, Bansal while presenting the Railway Budget 2013-14 said rail accidents have come down but he targetted to reduce them further with more measures.
"Safety is a mandate in running trains. There has been a significant reduction in accidents . From .41 per million kms in 2003-04 it has come down to .13 in 2011- 12," he said adding that his ministry will try to work towards a zero accident situation.
He claimed there has been a significant reduction of train accidents.
Elimination of over 10,000 level crossings was promised by the minister who also assure of enhancement of the track capacity and the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS).
He assured of more ladies specials in metros.
He said there would be bio-toilets on trains and cleanliness will be priority. He announced a toll free number 1800111321 for passenger to lodge their grievance.
He said Rs 100 crore will be spent to augment facilities at Delhi, New Delhi and Nizamuddin railway stations and special emphasis will be on stations in NCR (National Capital Region).
He also promised Free wi-fi facilities at railway stations and more e-ticketing services.
Bansal said passenger trains has increased from 8000 in 2001 to over 12000 in 2012 in number but losses continue to rise. It is estimated to be Rs 24,000 cr in 2012-13, he said.
"Scarcity of resources continues to star us," he said after beginning his budget speech.
Last time the fare was hiked was on Jan 22 to offset the possible Rs 24,000 crore loss in the current financial year.