India’s rail budget promises new model to develop networkFebruary 24th, 2010 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday presented India’s rail budget for the next fiscal with the promise of a new business model that will encourage private investment with social commitment.
“Our objective is inclusive growth,” she told the Lok Sabha, lower house of parliament, adding her main consideration in this year’s budget was social responsibility rather than mere commercial viability of projects.
“We have set our goals in the Vision 2020 document and we will achieve it,” the minister said, referring to the document presented in December that targeted making over 30,000 km of routes into double or multiple lines, compared to 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,” she said, adding: “We will not privatise our railways.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were among those in the house, presided over by Speaker Meira Kumar.
This was Banerjee’s fourth budget of her career as railway minister and the second for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in its second straight term after being voted back to office in May last year.
The budget came against the backdrop of the share of Indian Railways in the movement of goods, vis a vis truckers, falling from 24.07 percent in 2001-02 to 20.89 percent in 2008-09 and further to 19.32 percent in the first 10 months of this fiscal.
Indian Railways runs the world’s second largest network under a single management with a network of 64,099 route km to ferry 18.9 million passengers on 7,000 trains daily from 6,906 stations. It also runs 4,000 freight trains to carry 850 million tonnes of cargo.
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Tags: commercial viability, finance minister, freight trains, house of parliament, indian railways, leader of opposition, Lok Sabha, mamata banerjee, manmohan, manmohan singh, meira kumar, pranab mukherjee, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, progressive alliance, railway minister, social commitment, sonia gandhi, swaraj, vision 2020