Mamata for New Business Model – Private Investment with Social Commitment

Presenting rail budget for the next fiscal, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has promised a new business model to encourage private investment along with social commitment but without privatization, reported IANS.

“Our objective is inclusive growth,” she was quoted as telling the Lok Sabha.

Banerjee said that her main consideration in the budget was social responsibility rather than mere commercial viability of projects, report said.

“We have set our goals in the Vision 2020 document and we will achieve it,” she was quoted as saying in reference to the document unveiled in December that has targeted making over 30,000 km of routes into double or multiple lines against 18,000 km today.

“It is a fact that administrative and procedural delays discourage potential investors. We will need to overcome this. I am setting up a special task force for this,” the minister was quoted as saying.

“Special structure will be created for the new business model,” she was quoted as saying. “But we will not privatise our railways. Indian Railways will remain with the government.”

Also, Banerjee asked the private sector to steer clear of what she called ‘typical negative approach’ while dealing with the Indian Railways.

“I am sorry to say this, this mindset has to change,” she was quoted as saying.

Presenting fourth budget of her career as railway minister, the second for the UPA government in its second straight term, Banerjee said that 117 out of 120 new trains promised in her last budget would be flagged off by March 31, said report.

About safety issue, she said that there were a few cases of unfortunate accidents in the past and that these would be checked by adopting the highest level of technology and manpower training, report said.

“Within five years, we will have 13,000 out of unmanned level crossings manned – 3,000 this fiscal and 1,000 in the coming fiscal,” she was quoted as saying in reference to the high number of accidents at such crossroads.

It may be mentioned that the budget came against the backdrop of the share of Indian Railways in the movement of goods, vis a vis truckers, falling from 24.07 percent in 2001-02 to 20.89 percent in 2008-09 and further to 19.32 percent in the first 10 months of this fiscal.

Rail Budget Highlights:

1.    Special drive to increase passenger amenities
2.    Upgradation of 94 stations
3.    Six new drinking water bottling plants in public-private partnership (PPP) mode
4.    Modern toilets at railway stations
5.    More ticketing centres to help the public
6.    Acquisition of cutting edge safety technology
7.    1,000 km route to be created
8.    Special task force for clearing investment proposals in 100 days
9.    New business model to be created
10.    No privatisation
11.    Railways to remain with government
12.    But greater participation of private sector assured
13.    117 of 120 new trains for current fiscal to be flagged off
14.    Within five years, all unmanned level crossings to be manned
15.    Construction of more underpasses, besides road overbridges
16.    Greater coordination with state governments to protect railway property
17.    Security of women passengers to be improved
18.    Ex-servicemen to be employed in Railway Protection Force
19.    Five sports academies to be set up
20.    Astroturf to be provided for development of hockey
21.    Employment opportunities for sports persons
22.    Railways to be lead partner for Commonwealth Games

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