Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday described the rail budget as 'disappointing and a failed exercise' and alleged, backward states like Bihar had been 'completely neglected'.
Reacting to the railway budget presented in parliament, Kumar said the Congress-ruled states had been accorded priority, while many ongoing projects in Bihar like rail bridges across Ganga at Digha and Munger had not been allocated funds.
He said no additional train had been given to Bihar between Patna and New Delhi, despite the fact that a maximum number of passengers travel from the state. "There are several pending railway projects in Bihar which require huge investment for completion. But no attempt has been made to address them," he said.
Kumar, who had served as railway minister during the NDA regime, said new projects had been announced without making proper arrangements for fund and taking other clearances.
"We had stopped the practice of announcing projects without required clearances. But unfortunately it has been resumed again," he said.
“The railway minister has described it as surplus budget but targets of several ongoing rail projects have been lowered. A number of projects announced in 2012-13 have not been executed. This clearly reflects the financial mismanagement in the railway ministry,” Kumar said.
Alleging that the passenger fare had been increased through backdoor, Kumar said the Centre lacked courage and resorted to cleverness by increasing fare in January itself.
“While the government is claiming that it has not raised fare, the charges on ‘tatkal’ bookings and cancellations have been increased which will adversely hit the passengers,” he said.
Taking a dig at rail minister for announcing a search for new technology to stop train collision, Kumar sought to know why anti-collision device developed by Konkan Railway, which was introduced during his tenure in NF railway and which yielded good results, was stopped. He also questioned discontinuation of Corporate Safety plan that he had prepared for ten years (2003-13) and which yielded ‘good results’ in preventing train accidents.
“The railway minister has announced projects in PPP mode and sought cooperation of states even on construction of foot over bridges. This is ridiculous. I also wonder how the Centre will link work on railway projects with MNREGA, as it will create lot of practical problems,” he said.
Former railway minister Lalu Prasad expressed his disappointment over the rail budget, saying this was for the first time that he had heard of annexures in the rail budget. “During my tenure, we used to increase fares, but still we earned profit,” he said.