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‘No focus on improving business prospects’

Former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav speaks to Nagendar Sharma on the current rail budget.

business Updated: Feb 25, 2010 01:19 IST
Nagendar Sharma

How do you rate the budget?

It is an extremely disappointing budget, which shows that the financial health of the railways is a major cause for concern. In my view, it is now headed for reverses, since there is no vision and no direction.

Substantiate that.

Look at the facts. The net surplus is down to Rs 951 crore as against Rs 13,431 crore in 2007-08 and the appropriation to capital fund is down to zero. She has compromised railway safety to avoid her balance sheet from going into red. There is no focus on how to improve the business prospects of Indian Railways.

Won’t you give her credit for not hiking passenger fares and freight tariffs?

Don’t you remember that in my last two budgets I had reduced the fares. Utter mismanagement will now force the railways to look towards the government for money.

Are you saying there is not a single good thing in the budget?

I am not saying that. My point is that there is nothing new in it. Rejected proposals have been recycled, there is no emphasis on passenger amenities and safety. It would have been better had the minister not played politics. My view is that the change of a minister should not disturb continuity.