Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday said the railway budget lacked direction and did not try to provide any solution to problems daunting the leviathan of Indian Railways.
“It is a great disappointment to the common people of India. While only speaking laudable objectives, there are no clear plans for implementing the same,” she said in a statement.
Alleging that the rail freight had been increased in the most undemocratic way just days before Parliament met for its budget session, she said it would have severe adverse impact on the prices of essential commodities and would pave way for higher inflation.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said the proposals to include appointment of a body of experts to advise the government on establishing an independent Railway Tariff Regulatory Authority was clear evidence that the government was intent on increasing the fares in all future budgets.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said though the Tamil Nadu government had identified 16 new trains, only 10 new trains were proposed to be introduced. DMK president M. Karunanidhi said though every hike would affect the poor, there was no point in commenting about it if the people were able to bear the hike. “We cannot just say that the fare has been hiked. We have to take into consideration the circumstances and the reasons resulted in the hike,” he told reporters at the Egmore Railway station before leaving for the election campaign in Sankarankoil.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee leader B.S. Gnanadesikan, welcoming various new announcements for Tamil Nadu, requested the Railway Minister to withdraw the increase in passenger fare.
He said it was a matter of regret that the long-pending demand for operating a train between Mysore and Nagercoil had not been accepted. Moreover, there was no new allocation for the Dindigul-Sabarimalai project survey.
DMDK leader Vijayakant said that by attributing passengers fare hike to the increase in the price of diesel, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi had admitted that any hike in the future would be inevitable if there was an increase in the price of petroleum products. In a statement here, he said the purpose of keeping the transport sector with the government was to keep fares under control.
PMK leader S. Ramadoss said while five paise increase per km in the passenger fare might look like nothing, a passenger travelling from Chennai to Kanyakumar would be forced to pay an additional Rs 40.
Manithaneya Makkal Katchi leader M.H. Jawahirullah said the people of the State were disappointed as there was no announcement for doubling the line between Villupuram and Nagercoil.