The 2016-17 Railway Budget will spare passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs, as well as announcing the introduction of three new superfast trains and the creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.
But Suresh Prabhu’s proposed changes, as well as the numbers around the Budget, seem to have divided the Lok Sabha.
Former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi on Thursday criticised the Budget, saying it was a statement of illusion and that the government was misleading the nation.
“It is not a railway budget that Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has presented. It is just a statement of illusion by the minister,” Trivedi told IANS.
“This government has misled the nation through this budget which has neither any vision nor any direction,” the Trinamool Congress parliamentarian added.
Taking a jibe at the BJP-led NDA Government, another former railway minister, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, accused the Centre of cheating the poor and derailing the crucial sector.
“This Railway Budget contains nothing. The Indian Railways, which was made a ‘Jersey cow’, has seen a rise in the expenditure and fall in the income. The railway was only sector, which acted as a lifeline for all and the Modi Government has derailed railway,” Lalu told the media.
The PM took to Twitter on Thursday to congratulate Prabhu, and tweeted that the Budget illustrated the NDA government’s commitment to “serving the poor.”
Launch of unreserved, superfast trains, Antyodaya Express & Deen Dayalu coaches illustrate our unwavering commitment to serving the poor.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 25 February 2016
Maintaining that the core objective of Indian Railways is to become an engine of employment generation and economic growth at the national level, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said the railways would generate nine crore man-days employment by 2017-18 and 14 crore man-days by 2018-19.
Hailing it as being “futuristic and visionary”, union minister Prakash Javadekar said it gives due importance to the poor and reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India strong.
“It’s a futuristic and visionary budget which reflects the Prime Minister’s vision of making India very strong. The budget also makes the railways more important in the economy of India.
Unlike last year when he tweaked freight rates, railway minister Suresh Prabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates.
The three new superfast trains announced by him include ‘Humsafar’ which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. ‘Tejas’ will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wifi.