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No fright for core sector, freight rates stay intact

The largely people-friendly railway budget presented in Parliament has been lapped up by core sectors like cement, iron ore and steel which provide the maximum revenues to the ministry. The railway budget has left freight rates unchanged as was being expected. HT Correspondent reports.

business Updated: Jul 04, 2009 00:38 IST
HT Correspondent

The largely people-friendly railway budget presented in Parliament has been lapped up by core sectors like cement, iron ore and steel which provide the maximum revenues to the ministry.

The railway budget has left freight rates unchanged as was being expected as it missed the freight target for 2008-09 owing to the slowdown in the economy. Against an expectation of 850 million tonnes (mt), only 833 mt freight was handled by railways during the last financial year.

"Overall the budget will provide for inclusive growth and ensure expansion of Railways," said Sajjan Jindal, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, JSW Steel. "However, elaborate steps and proposals are somehow missing for massive modernization of railways. Also no loyalty has been given to the steel industry which is one of the largest revenue providers for the railways."

The industry however believed that the conservative freight target of 882 mt for 2009-10 signifying a 5.9 per cent growth year on year can easily be surpassed.

This is a neutral budget as far as the cement Industry is concerned, but I must say that this is a contemporary budget in terms of new thoughts and directions," said Sumit Banerjee, managing director, ACC Ltd.

The iron ore sector which has been hit badly by the global recession and falling demand for steel, also gave a mixed response.

"We have been requesting the railway ministry to redo the classifications but that has not been met," said RK Sharma, secretary general, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries. "It is a good budget overall but times are still very uncertain for the mining sector."

Iron ore production went up by 10.26 per cent to 227.64 mt but exports stagnated at 104 mt in 2008-09.