CPI(M), CITU describe railway budget as regressive

 CPI(M) on Thursday said the Railway budget 2015-16 was "high on hyperbole but low on content" and will not bring the promised good days for the poor.

PTI| Updated: Feb 26, 2015, 22:55 PM IST

New Delhi: CPI(M) on Thursday said the Railway budget 2015-16 was "high on hyperbole but low on content" and will not bring the promised good days for the poor.

The central trade unions also described the railway budget as "utterly regressive" and said the fright hike will result in increase of prices of all essential commodities.

"In sum, this Railway budget is not going to result in 'acchhe din' (good days) for the poor, though the Railway minister quoted the Prime Minister saying that the railways will be an instrument for eliminating poverty," CPI(M) Polit Bureau said.

The party said that though the Railway Minister asserted that Indian Railways will continue to remain an asset of the people but the extent to which he wanted to raise resources for critical infrastructure through the PPP, BOT and others raises "serious" questions.

CPI(M) said that the budgetary allocations for extending railways to backward and far flung areas and greater access for the poorer sections are totally "inadequate".

"The railways will henceforth only prioritise the unfinished projects. Thus its social objectives will remain unaddressed. The Railway Minister's claim of a reversal of decline with the vision he spelt out hardly inspires any confidence," the party said.

The party also claimed that traffic growth has declined and expenditures "outstrip" according to revised estimates.

"There are 4.6 crore less originating passengers. The passenger earnings were short by Rs 968 crores proving earlier fare hikes to be counterproductive. Given this, there should not be any euphoria over passenger fares not being raised," the party said.

"The Rail Budget for the year 2015-16 was high on hyperbole but low on content. In fact, it has spelt out certain intentions with scarce factual details to translate these ideas into reality," it said.

Noting that the gross traffic receipts were Rs 492 crores as compared to the revised estimates, the party said that the railways success in generating internal resources for plan finances also falls short.

"Most importantly, the operating ratio was 2.7 per cent less only on account of reduction in the international crude oil prices and not due to the railways internal efficiency improvement," the party said.

It said that during the first three years of the 12th Five Year Plan, the railways received only Rs 1.5 lakh crores for investment but the Railway Minister "bombastically" promised that in the coming five years, this will increase to Rs. 8.56 lakh crores.

Meanwhile, Centre for India Trade Unions (CITU) said that apart from regressive, the budget is also threatening the jobs of railway workers including catering and maintenance.

"The Rail Budget, placed today by the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, is utterly regressive, under cover of rhetoric so far as growth and development of the national economy is concerned," it said.

CITU said that the fright hike will cause hike in the prices of all essential commodities and also increase miseries of the ordinary passengers by not introducing new trains despite huge passenger pressure on existing trains.

"This rail budget is threatening the jobs of railway workers in catering, cleaning and maintenance services due to outsourcing through e-catering services and eliminating the cleaning and maintenance services handing over the same to so called NGO and corporates," it said.

The trade unions said that the freight hikes of coal, cement, iron and steel will badly affect infrastructural development within the country and also make India-produced steel out of competition in the export market.

"Huge freight increase in coal will affect all manufacturing sector and will cause electricity price hike," it said.