RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Wednesday described the Railway budget as “disappointing” and said the Ministry’s attempt to attract private firms to fund the Rail projects is like “chasing a dream”.
“The budget is disappointing. The Railway Ministry’s balance sheet is in poor shape. There is no provision for funds in it and private investment in railway projects is inadequate,” Mr. Prasad told reporters here.
Referring to various public private partnership (PPP) initiatives introduced during his tenure in the previous UPA government, Mr. Prasad said, “Due to recession in 2008, private investment in Railway projects had suffered. Now the situation is even worse for the Ministry and all talk by it of attracting private funding, is like chasing a dream.”
He said, “Many banks as well as companies involved in manufacturing of locomotives, lost money during the economic meltdown and unless they are assured of returns, no company will come forward to participate in Railway projects. The situation in the Ministry is a matter of concern“.
Mr. Prasad said Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has sanctioned greater funds for railway connectivity in those areas of Bihar, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has a stronghold. “In most of the railway connectivity projects, she has only sanctioned Rs one crore for each section. However, for sections coming under Nitish’s area, the sanctioned amount is far greater,” the former railway minister said.
Mr. Prasad also blamed Ms. Banerjee of not taking follow up action on the projects which he had started. “I had introduced various passenger amenity measures and created new divisions. However, no follow up action has been taken on my decisions,” he said.
The RJD chief said he had made Indian Railways into a profitable venture during his tenure, but it was now in bad shape.