Rail Minister Mamata Bannerjee announced more sops for the aam aadmi (common man) while replying to the discussion on the Rail budget on Thursday. However, she categorically stated that she was “not a magician” who could produce trains from a hat.
Bannerjee said in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, “Everyone wants trains. Right now I have requests for 4,000 trains. I can obviously not launch all of those.” On a more aggressive note, she told the Upper House, “I am not a technical expert, I am not an engine expert and I am definitely not an economic affairs expert,” and added “we are trying to work things out to the best possible effect.”
The Minister announced 50 per cent fare concessions to holders of the President’s Police Medal and artistes in both houses and in the Lok Sabha she read out a list of other sops including those for medical colleges and IIT-type institutions.
She also announced more trains and model stations, concessions to artists and a committee on Public Private Partnership, in her reply to discussion on railway budget in Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The Rs 40,745 crore railway budget was passed with a voice vote in Lok Sabha where Bannerjee also gave some respite to her predecessor Lalu Prasad. Referring to the white paper to be brought out on the financial condition and performance of the Indian Railways in the last five years, the Rail Minister said it should not be seen as a report card on his performance. “Laluji, I did not speak against you,” she clarified.
In both Houses of Parliament, Banerjee clarified that the revenue surplus of the Railways was only Rs 8361 crore. She, however, said that the earnings of the Indian Railways would have been utilised for its operations, infrastructure and to pay salaries of the employees.