It pays only lip service to the common people

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday termed the Railway Budget “uninspiring and a major disappointment.”

In a statement, she said the budget totally lacked any long term perspective with regard to infrastructure development in the country. It placed a “greater burden on the already-overburdened common people” through an indirect passenger fare increase by higher fees and an increase in the freight tariff, all eventually increasing prices of essential commodities. “The Railway budget has only paid lip service to the common people while placing untold burdens on them.”

“Crying need of the region”

Pointing out that no high speed freight corridor had been proposed in peninsular India including Tamil Nadu which was a “crying need of the region,” she said an increasing portion of the costs, traditionally met by the Union government and the Railway Ministry, was sought to be pushed on to the State governments such as project costs on new lines and passenger safety amenities like foot over bridges. “This is totally unacceptable.”

She criticised the move to hike freight charges which would further increase the pressure on State electricity utilities which were already suffering. There had been an indirect increase in passenger fares by increasing a number of supplementary charges. This is an attempt to hoodwink the public.

Ms. Jayalalithaa contended that the Railway Ministry was also trying to appropriate the allocation towards Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for its needs, “which is very unfair and encroaches on the decision making powers of local bodies and State governments.”

Further, no additional services had been announced in the Chennai Suburban System “which is highly patronised by the public.” The “very few new railway lines and services” announced for the State were schemes demanded many years ago and based on repeated requests from the State government. “Unlike ongoing projects which have been greatly delayed, I hope at least these projects will be implemented in time,” she said, adding that the Railway Budget continued the trend of step-motherly treatment habitually meted out to the State.

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