Mamata’s rail budget promises growth with human face(Lead)

February 25th, 2011 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) With highest ever allocation of Rs.57,630 crore ($13 billion), Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday presented the rail budget for 2011-12, promising to move fast to build a stronger railroad infrastructure while addressing the needs of the average person.From more money for better safety and several industrial parks under the public-private partnership model to new coach factories and rail-based industries, the budget sought to address all constituencies - the needs of the corporate sector as well as average passengers.

“We have taken a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, building sustainable, efficient, rapidly-growing railways. On the other, having an acute sense of social responsibility towards the common people,” Banerjee told the Lok Sabha.

“In this budget we have attempted to combine a strong economic focus with an equivalent emphasis on social inclusion with a human face,” she said in her opening remarks of what was her fifth such exercise as railways minister.

The latest rail budget also comes against the backdrop of the assembly elections due soon in the home state of the minister, whose Trinamool Congress has set its eyes on forming the next government.

Opposition members, especially those from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, were up on their feet, protesting what they said was undue attention to West Bengal in the annual rail budget.

But Banerjee was equally fiery. “I am proud of my state. I’ll do whatever possible for West Bengal along with what I’ll do for other states of my country.” This led to some disruptions, forcing the minister to stop her speech on several occassions.

In the previous two rail budgets for the United Progressive Alliance government, Banerjee had announced 122 new trains in 2009-10 and another 54 a year later, without altering the freight or passenger tariff rates.

Indian Railways, the world’s second largest under a single management, has a network of 64,099 route km to ferry as many as 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.

Following are the highlights of the budget:

* Safety first priority; accident rate has come down.

* Decision to start pilot projects to give shelter to homeless people.

* Outlay of 57,630 crore for 2011-12, the highest investment in one year.

* Rs.10,000 crore to be raised through railway bonds.

* Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojna to be launched.

* Industrial park to be set up in Nandigram, West Bengal.

* Fund to be created for socially desirable projects.

* First coach from Rae Bareli factory in next three months.

* Work on wagon factory in Orissa to begin after land is acquired.

* Railways to set up factory in Jammu and Kashmir.

* To set up Metro coach factory at Singur, West Bengal.

* Manipur to be soon connected to railway network.

* Centre for excellence in software to be set up at Darjeeling.

* Combines strong economic focus along with inclusion.

* Develop business-oriented policies to aid industry.

* Happy to announce 85 PPP proposals received; set up single-window system to take these forward.

* Decide to set-up rail-based industries.

* Upgraded class of air conditioned travel to be introduced shortly.

* Anti-collision device, successful in North West Frontier Railway, to be extended to three more zonal railways.

* Will add 180 km of rail lines in 2011-12.

* All-India security helpline set up.

* To adopt modern technology through centres of academic excellence.

* Work started on two dedicated freight corridors.

* Work on upgrading 442 stations to be completed by March 31.

* First coach from Rae Bareli factory in next three months.

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