The State leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) decried the Railway budget presented by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee as “politically motivated and wrapped in glossy paper” with no measures to improve the security and services to passengers.
“There is not much difference in the budget presented this year and the one presented in 2009, when a number of announcements were made, many of which were not fulfilled,” Biman Bose, secretary of the CPI(M)’s West Bengal State Committee told journalists here.
Although passenger fares were not raised, neither were there any measures for improving passenger services, security or the quality of food offered on trains, he said.
“It is clear that an attempt has been made to fool common people with propagandistic announcements,” Mr. Bose said.
Citing the subsidy Rs. 100 per wagon on freight charges for fertilizers, food grains and kerosene, Mr. Bose said, on the face of it, it would appear that Ms. Banerjee was very concerned over price rise, but in actuality it would be of no benefit to a poor farmer.
About 55 tonnes is transported in a wagon, which translates to a subsidy of Rs. 1.80 per tonne, he said.
“Which poor farmer buys even a ton of fertilizer to avail the benefit,” Mr. Bose asked.
“The Railway budget seems to be a gimmick show,” he said, adding that instead of focussing on issues relevant to the Railways, announcement on human resource development, sports and health and family planning were made.
Mr. Bose also raised questions about the implementation of the several projects announced by Ms. Banerjee.
“She herself admitted that several projects were yet to be placed for the approval of the Planning Commission. What will be the fate of these projects if the Planning Commission does not approve,” he asked.
The question of revenue has also been left unaddressed. Six months later, many of these projects will be scrapped for lack of funds, he said.
It was admitted that freight movement and revenue was less, but no comment made on what was being done about it, he said.
“There should be an investigation made into why the freight movement had declined instead of dabbling in sports and museums,” Mr. Bose said.
He also said that the policy to make the Railways “investor-friendly” was resulting in the increase in outsourcing, privatisation and PPP projects.