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Blog Entry# 1950623
Posted: Aug 03 2016 (13:09)

3 Responses
Last Response: Aug 03 2016 (15:23)
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Aug 03 2016 (12:20)   Railways working on long-term development plan: Prabhu

Jayashree*^   40501 news posts
Entry# 1950623   News Entry# 275777         Tags   Past Edits
Seeking to make Indian railways a more vibrant organisation, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said he was working on a long-term plan for the development of the organisation.
The plan for development of railways that will take into account the physical and financial needs of the organisation uptil 2030 was being prepared in consultation with different stake holders including Members of Parliament, he said while winding up a two-day debate on dividend policy of the railways in Lok Sabha.
The Minister said he was also in touch with noted economist Rakesh Mohan, who
headed a committee on National Transport Development Policy on the integrated transport policy of which railways was an important component. The committee had submitted its report to the government in February 2014.
Appreciating the demand of members for expanding railway network, Prabhu said "more is not enough, railways must become vibrant."
Elaborating on his plans, the Minister said "we are developing a plan for railways for 2030...In close consultation with stakeholders" and would also seek inputs from MPs as well.
The broad focus, he added, would be on decentralisation, better deployment of human resources and development of three dedicated freight corridors.
The railways, Prabhu said, was looking at forming joint ventures with state governments for expanding the rail network and improving services.
World Bank and the several financial institutions have been roped in to develop business plans, he said, adding the proposal has evoked goods response from several states including Kerala and West Bengal.
The resolution, which was adopted by the Lok Sabha, provides for payment of 5 per cent dividend for 2014-15 and 4 per cent for 2015-16, as recommended by Railway Convention Committee. It will be placed before the Rajya Sabha for approval. Describing the railways as "strategic asset and national
treasure," Prabhu said it has been in "deep trouble for long and we have to make all efforts to pull it out. That is the challenge... Railways must be developed to its full potential."
The Railway Minister also underlined the need for having a relook at the dividend policy for the organisation which discharges social obligations to the tune of Rs 34,000 crore.
He said Indian railways get miniscule subsidy as compared to the railways of developed countries like Germany, France, Italy and Austria.
"We are asking for a subsidy of 30 paise per km," the minister said, adding that it comes in the form of Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).
The minister also underlined the need for operational subsidy and questioned the practice of giving dividend by the railwys to the government.
The railways, Prabhu further said, has been working to increase freight traffic and encourage passengers to travel by rail by improving services.
As regards the announcemnts made in the Budget, he said those have been either implemented fully or were at the advance stage of implementation. "We are working on transformative approach for railways."
The railways, he added, has started the Complaint Redressal Mechanism and is "looking at restructuing of various arms of the railways in significant way."
Participating in the debate, TMC member and former Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi said a lot more needs to be done to improve Indian Railways as he demanded a national policy on railways. B Majhi (BJD) wanted a fixed date for the payment of
dividends by the Indian Rilways.
Arvind Sawant (SS) said on one side, people are talking about running bullet trains and on the other hand trains are getting derailed.
"There is no need for wi-fi or bullet trains. First let the trains run on time. The convention committee is talking about dividend, but the services are not good...It is an social institute", he said.
Supporting the resolution, P Karunakaran (CPM) said the public character of the Indian railways should be maintained as it has social obligations. There should be some provision for the sector in the Budget also, he added.
Velagapalli Vara Prasad Rao (YSRCP) said exclusive shareholders of the Railway are tax payers and it should run on commercial lines and pay dividend.
Dushyant Chautala (INLD) said there is a need to improve railway infrastructure. Instead of paying dividend, that sum can be used for improving the technology, upgrading stations and modernisation of railway, he said.
Rajeev Satav (Cong) wondered whether the government has capacity of repay huge debt of 9 lakh crore that it is proposing to raise from the market.
He said there is no progress in the railways and it is only visible on paper or social media.
Moreover, this government has burdened the poor passengers with increase in fare between 10 and 15 per cent, he added.
Questioning the rationale of the fare hike, Dharmendra Yadav (SP) said it is not fair to give dividend to government at the cost of passengers.
Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) said Railway Ministry is talking of running bullet train when existing trains do not have basic facilities and infrastructure is poor.

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