The maiden railway budget of Union minister of railways Suresh Prabhu has failed to appease the industrialists of Ludhiana.
The industrialists opposed the budget in regards to increase in freight of steel, cement, LPG, kerosene etc. The freight of iron and steel has been increased by 0.8%, cement by 2.7%, coal by 6.3% and urea by 10% in the rail budget.
Ludhiana being an industrial state and mainly dealing with hosiery and cycle industry, has to get its raw material brought from other states and then send back the manufactured products. Thus freight charges will directly leave an impact on them. The burden of hiked freight may be shifted on consumers, say people.
Federation of Punjab Small Industries Associations (FOPSIA) president Badish Jindal said, "All these products are consumed in Punjab and due to locational disadvantages, the Punjab is going to suffer the most."
"The increase in freight on steel will directly effect the engineering industry and increase in freight of fuel and coal will increase the power costs in Punjab. It is indeed shocking that even after cut down in fuel prices by more than 70%, the railway is increasing the freight,"said Badish Jindal.
Industrialists also called these announcements as more decorative than practical. The railway is targeting to increase transportation from 1 billion tons to 1.5 billion tons, whereas increase in freight will certainly effect the targets, the industrialists say.
Announcements have made in the budget to complete the freight corridors by this year which is next to impossible as around 50% work is pending, say the industrialists.
United Cycles Parts and Manufacturers Association (UPCMA) general secretary Rajeev Jain said, "There is nothing positive for the industries of Punjab. The We were expecting a reduction in freight, but instead it was increased."
Rajeev Jain said, "In cycle industry, firstly we have to import raw material from the states like Orrisa and then have to export completed products to Maharashtra or Gujarat. 90% of our products are sent to other states so this budget will burden us."
Though the budget has mentioned the completion of freight corridors at earliest, but no deadline is setup for the same.
The demands of the industrialists for more trains to Delhi etc were also not met.
Increase in freight
The public-private partnership (PPP) model is there but no agreement made under this scheme in the last 9 months.
Due to no air connectivity, Punjab was expecting new trains but nothing such was announcement.