Cold storage, transport to be provided, says Railway Minister Lalu Prasad
HYDERABAD: After promoting "kullars" to help rural artisans, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said here on Saturday that the infrastructure available in the 7,500 railway stations across the country would be utilised to provide cold storage and transport facilities to farmers.
Speaking at the Ruby Jubilee celebrations of the South Central Railway here, he announced that global tenders would be invited for establishing processing and cold storage facilities in land available near railway stations. Proposals were also afoot to attach pre-cooled containers to trains for transport of perishables.
In his inimitable style, Mr. Prasad said amid applause that people could buy footwear in air-conditioned showrooms but farm produce was sold on the footpaths, which meant showing disrespect to farmers. He said that even the sea route could be utilised to facilitate marketing of farm produce globally.
"Indian Railways have surplus of Rs. 13,500 croresand the way we are going, after the turnaround, we are confident of touching the Rs. 20,000- crore mark by the end of the current fiscal. We will use our resources to improve the lot of our farmers," he said, and added that the Railways would soon reach No. 1 position in the world from the present No. 3.
He said that belying popular perception that every budget meant a fare hike, the Government had reduced fares and brought rail travel closer to the common man. Referring to the recently introduced `Garib Rath' trains, he said one such train would come to Andhra Pradesh soon. As for infrastructure, there was no shortage of funds, specially when States could match 50 per cent of the cost. "How many Road Over-Bridges do you want ? We will give you as many as you require," he said.
SCR General Manager D.N. Mathur presided and others present included MPs V. Hanumantha Rao, Anjan Kumar Yadav and Syed Azeez Pasha, National Disaster Management Authority member Marri Sashidhar Reddy and Postmaster-General Yesodhara Menon.
New logo unveiled
Mr. Lalu Prasad unveiled SCR's new logo with the Charminar in the background and released a special commemorative postal cover. He also released a handbook on SCR's 40 years.
Ever the entertainer, he had the cutely-dressed bandgirls from schools in splits when he picked up the bandmaster's baton and twirled it around over his head with finesse following it up with a jig outside the Bhoiguda-end of the Secunderabad railway station.
Earlier, he was amazed when the 1962 model steam engine threw up a gust of black smoke as it revved a moment after he flagged it off.