Former Union Minister for Railways O. Rajagopal on Wednesday came down heavily on the Railway Budget noting that the Railway Minister had done a gross injustice to Kerala.
The Budget had neglected the needs of the State and was one of the worst for Kerala in recent years. The Members of the Parliament and Ministers from Kerala had failed to prevent that. The Budget would be a heavy burden on the people as the increase in fares comes after a hike in freight charges.
Mr. Rajagopal told the media that the Railway Minister had even slighted Kerala by not mentioning anything concrete about the Palakkad Coach factory which had been mooted as back as in 1950. The Budget said nothing about the ownership, conditions of investments or date of commencement of work. In case of coach terminals at Kottayam and Nemom, which had been announced in the last budget, the Railway Minister had actually gone a step backward by announcing that surveys for the terminals would be held this year.
He noted that the Kochuveli Yaswantpur express would only be a weekly train. The rejection of the demand for a new daily train service to Bangalore confirmed allegations of corruption involving railway officials and bus operators. While there are proposals to improve three railway stations, earlier proposals for development stations in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode to international standards remained unimplemented. Similar was the fate of the proposed Railway medical college and the water bottling plant. Important demands of the State such as formation of peninsular zone, Nilambur-Nanjencode line and suburban railway system in Kochi were not heeded.
He welcomed the proposals for recruiting one lakh persons, and modernising and improving the safety of the railway system. However, instead of implementing recommendations of committees that examined modernisation and safety issues, the Railway Minister had proposed formation of authorities to do the work. They would serve little purpose other than providing scope for appointment of people close to the government in various positions.