Mumbaikars feel ignored by railway budget

February 26th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, Feb 26 (IANS) Though Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has received accolades for his populist railway budget for 2008-09 presented Tuesday, people in this financial capital of the country feel ignored and left out. A majority of them felt that though Mumbai accounts for a huge chunk of the passenger revenues, there have been no provisions to improve the city’s suburban train services and conditions of travel for the seven million daily commuters.

“This is a very election friendly budget. In spite of living in the financial capital of the country, Mumbaikars have not benefited from this railway budget at all,” said Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) vice-president Bageesh Saraswat.

He criticised the railway minister for not announcing any additional services or infrastructure for the Mumbai suburban section.

Ramya Iyer, a working woman who commutes between Bandra and Churchgate, said Lalu Prasad could have at least provided for more services on suburban sections.

“With such massive profits in the railway kitty, Mumbaikars hoped he would provide for additional infrastructure or announce projects for optional modes of travel like skyrail and monorail, and improve travel conditions,” she said.

Mumbai Suburban Train Passenger Association chairman Deepak Gandhi said the budget was progressive but Mumbai was left out.

“Even after quadrupling of railway tracks from Borivali to Virar in north Mumbai, there has been no announcement of additional services,” said Gandhi.

Nitin Shah, a builder, welcomed freight reductions for cement, iron and steel, but added that these reliefs may not be passed on to the common man by way of reduction in real estate prices in Mumbai.

“Hence, people will keep going to places far out for accommodation but travel to work places like south Mumbai, the Bandra-Kurla complex, Andheri and Worli where the central business districts are located. Unless suburban train travel improves quantitatively and qualitatively, Mumbaikars are condemned to inhuman commuting,” Shah added.

Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh president Madhu Kotian said the number of commuters has gone up by more than a half million in the past two years but no additional services have been introduced.

“There has been no allocation of funds for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project or any additional allocation for the pending work on new corridors on the Western and Central Railways’ suburban sections. These could have gone a long way in mitigating problems faced by Mumbai commuters,” he said.

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