A longstanding grievance of senior citizens is the Railways' refusal to extend concessional fares to them under the Tatkal scheme. With nearly 40 per cent of the berths in many trains earmarked under this quota, which get exhausted as soon as the bookings open, senior citizens are made to pay the full fare besides heavy Tatkal charges in these difficult times. In fact, it is they who need to undertake journeys at short notice on medical emergencies. The Railway Minister should consider granting these sections of people concession under the Tatkal scheme too.
The Railway budget seems to be a many-in-one budget, aiming to cater to the needs of all sections of people. Apart from running trains, which is the primary responsibility, the Railways have shown concern for areas such as health, education, research, industries and so on. In that sense, it is a departure from the budgets presented by Mamata's predecessors.
The budget provides a basketful of proposals to West Bengal much to the envy of the people of other States. But, traditionally, the State the Railway Minister belongs to bags a larger share of the proposals. However, this time the allotment to West Bengal might look disproportionately large in view of the Assembly elections next year. Interestingly, the budget has many proposals which depend on participation by corporates. But if the private sector shows lack of interest in such projects, they are unlikely to see the light of day.
Ujjal K. Pal,