Faced with a requirement of mammoth resources for expansion, the railways will need to involve the private sector, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said, but ruled out outright privatisation.
Sounding upbeat on the ‘Vision 2020’ unveiled for the Railways, Ms. Banerjee said in the Rajya Sabha that the plan hinges significantly on revenue generation through commercial utilisation of surplus land.
“We are not going to privatise our Railways. This is our commitment. I am proud of my 14 lakh employees,” she said, rejecting the Opposition’s charge in this regard.
However, for generation of money and creation of infrastructure, surplus space has to be utilised for commercial use, she said.
Banerjee said the railways need huge resources for clearing pending projects worth Rs one lakh crore. “Where will the money come from? It will not drop from the heavens,” she said, offending Congress member Praveen Rashtrapal, who staged a walkout in protest.
The minister said, in seven months she has presented two budgets and unveiled a long-term vision for the organisation, which is a must for delivering performance.
Without the long-term planning and execution, it would not be possible to start new trains and decongest traffic.
The House returned the concerned Appropriation bills, as passed by the Lok Sabha, enabling Railways to withdraw money from the exchequer for a part of 2010-11 and some authorisations for the current fiscal and 2008-09.