Industry hoping for implementation of rail projects

February 24th, 2011 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Feb 24 (IANS) On the eve of the railway budget, the industry was Thursday hoping the budget will see fast implementation of projects, reduction in freight of essential commodities and measures to ensure safety.”The basic expectation of industry would be a reminder of the promises made last year, such as expedited implementation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors, implementation of initiative on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Railway projects, stress on procurement of wagons and Rakes and a clear policy on Railways’ contribution to the booming economy,” Pawan K. Ruia, chairman, Ruia Group, told IANS.

The Rs.5,000-crore Ruia Group owns Jessop & Co Ltd which produces railway wagons and coaches.

“The nation needs new wagons and EMU and MEMU rakes in great numbers and a shortage will result in huge losses for the national exchequer as well as for the man on the street,” he said.

“A technology design centre of Research Designs and Standard Organisation (RDSO) is a need of the hour and it should be set up in the state where most of the rolling stock suppliers are located, that is West Bengal,” Ruia added.

RDSO is the sole R&D arm of the railways.

Santosh Baja, chairman of Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce’s Iron and Steel Committee, said: “Our expectation is that freight in essential goods, including iron and steel, should be reduced as ultimately movements of such items should always be economic to keep inflation under control.

“Movements of goods throughout the country should be cheaper. Onion price is still very high. One of the main reasons for the skyrocketing price is freight rates between Nasik to Delhi and Kolkata are quite high,” he stated.

Bajaj hailed the Railways’ recent decision to connect coal and iron ore mines with major industrial areas through PPP projects.

Movement of trucks from Barbil in Orissa, where major crushers existed, to Durgapur in West Bengal or other industrial belts was very slow due to poor road condition, Bajaj said, adding new railway tracks between Barbil and Durgapur would also be a very welcome step.

“Passenger train fare is not going to be increased. Industry expectation is that Mamata Banerjee will not increase freight rate. Industry is already facing tremendous cost hike. Raw materials cost has increased up to 25 percent. So any increase in freight would be suicidal for the industry,” former Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) president Sanjay Budhia said.

Hygiene in trains should be given priority and similar kind of hygiene facilities in every train was required, Budhia said.

“Old railway tracks should be replaced for safety measures,” he added.

Bipul Malakar, professor of economics at Jadavpur University, also stressed the need for a comprehensive safety measure to be taken by the Indian Railways to prevent any accident.

“I want to know what provisions will be there in the forthcoming railway budget to prevent accidents. Most of the accidents occur due to failure in the internal communication system and automatic relay system. Railway services need to be improved,” he pointed out.

Retiring rooms at railway stations in tourist spots could be upgraded to two-star or three-star hotels and railway platforms should be encroachment free, he added.

Saugata Patra, a state government employee, said a Howrah-Siliguri Duronto express was necessary for fast connectivity between North Bengal and South Bengal.

Frequency of long-distance local trains such as Krishnanagar local, Hasnabad local and Howrah-Katwa local needed to be increased in rush hours, besides all local trains should be of 12 coaches, he added.

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