Rail commuters in the State do not have high expectations from the maiden Railway Budget being presented by Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The plain speaking by Minister for Transport and Power Aryadan Mohammed, who also holds the charge of railway development, that the State need not be optimistic about the Budget quite summed up what is in store for the State.
The hopes of Mr. Bansal coming up with some major announcements in his Budget to address the alleged neglect of the State is remote as the Railways is cash-strapped, official sources say.
The State government had already rejected the request of the Railways for sharing 50 per cent of the cost as done by other States for railway projects. The Railways are urging the State to share 50 per cent cost of Sabari railway line.
It is to be seen whether the presence of senior Congress leaders like A. K. Antony and Vayalar Ravi and six other Ministers from Kerala in the Union Cabinet will turn the tables in favour of the State with the elections to the Lok Sabha round the corner.
Kerala managed to get a due share of the rail projects when BJP leader O. Rajagopal was Union Minister of State for Railways during the NDA regime.
Railway passenger associations and Non Resident Keralites have been vociferously raising the need of the short-distance and long-distance commuters, and accusing the State government of not projecting the genuine railway needs of Kerala.
The government submitted a memorandum to Mr. Bansal when he arrived in Kozhikode on January 2. Included in the memorandum were details of the declarations made in Railway Budget from 2004 to 2012-13, the present status of the projects, and a prioritised list of pending rail projects and works that are to be implemented in 2013-14. An essential list was also attached with the memorandum.
The exhaustive memorandum was a revised version of the one submitted in November. Sources said laxity on the part of the government despite favourable political situation will turn costly to the State this year.
The main demands put forward by the State is formation of a peninsular railway zone and steps to kick off the coach factory in Palakkad and wagon component factory at Cherthala. It expects realisation of the projects sanctioned in the previous Budgets.