Mumbai commuters give thumbs down to railway budget

February 13th, 2009 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Feb 13 (IANS) Mumbai citizens have given a thumbs down to Railways Minister Lalu Prasad’s budget presented in parliament Friday as they feel there is nothing specific for suburban commuters for whom the railways is a lifeline.
“What is being done to reduce the rush in the trains, the congestion outside all the suburban railway stations, women’s security and cleanliness?” demanded a student Riddhi Shah.

Passenger associations, while welcoming the fare reduction for long-distance trains, complain of injustice to the Mumbai commuters.

“Although Mumbai contributes more than half of the country’s total tax revenues, the same does not get reflected in terms ploughing back (the revenue) to the city and improving it,” said Samir Jhaveri of Mumbai Suburban Railway Passengers Association.

Mumbai Yatri Sangh’s Subhash Gupta said Mumbaikars have been “completely forgotten” by Lalu Prasad.

“There is no provision for any of the major outstanding projects, including Mumbai Urban Transport Projects-II (MUTP-II),” he said.

Shailendra Kamble of Pravas Adhikar Andolan alleged that the budget was nothing but “a personal election manifesto” of the railways minister.

“It is an election-oriented budget. There is no relief at all for the 70 percent Mumbaikars who travel by railways daily. The budget is also silent about the MUTP phase-II project,” he said.

Former railways minister Ram Naik said the security of the commuters and the railways should have been accorded top priority in the wake of Nov 26 terror but has been totally ignored.

“People, especially the seven million suburban commuters, naturally expect a reduction in fares and enhanced services, but security of travel is also a major concern,” Naik pointed out.

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