New Delhi: Terming the Railway Budget as "realistic and pragmatic", Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday rejected opposition criticism that it lacked substance and said NDA government has taken on its shoulders all the responsibility of implementing unfulfilled promises of earlier regimes.
He said the budget was "most reassuring" as it gives a very innovative account of the road ahead to make railways backbone of the country's transportation and engine of economic growth.
Taking on the opposition for its criticism over no new trains, he questioned how many promises of new trains and railway tracks were implemented in the past and asserted that the budget will surely address the major issues of four 'S' of "speed, safety, security and satisfaction" of rail users.
"Substantially enhanced allocations for new network creation, doubling, tripling and quadrupling of network and electrification will herald 'acche din' for railways and its users," the Parliamentary Affairs minister said.
He said the budget was not populist but will become the most popular once implementation starts.
"The Railway Budget for 2015-16 is the most reassuring railway budget of last many years. The Budget proposals are a very informative, innovative and inspiring account of the road ahead for making our railways really the back bone of transportation in our country and a true driver of economic growth," Naidu said.
He said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has come out with a "realistic and pragmatic" budget and its effect will be known at the end of the year when past projects will be assessed and implemented.
"Railways are a true driver of economic growth. Keeping that in mind, I do agree that it is not populist but will become the most popular once implementation starts," he said.
"NDA government is trying to fulfil the promises made by the earlier regimes by taking up all the responsibilities on its shoulders."
"The economics of the Railways, the revenue of railways should also be kept in mind. People want clean railway stations, hygienic food, speed and security in the trains. These are the aspects the budget has focussed on," Naidu said.
He said that the four objectives, five strategy devices and 11 thrust areas detailed by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will address the four S of railways - speed, safety, security and satisfaction of railway users.
"I compliment Prabhu for giving the country a very reassuring account of the road ahead for railways. I am sure this Budget will touch the hearts of millions of rail users," Naidu said.
The Minister said that security and cleanliness has been accorded high priority in the rail budget and Railway Minister has paid very minute attention to all major concerns relating to making our railways reliable and self-sufficient.
"A major inspiring feature of this Budget is to make people and all other stakeholders own the railways through partnerships. The emphasis on capacity building through network augmentation is the need of the hour."
He said that the rail budget has made it clear that 'business as usual` approach will not be accepted anymore and the railways will be led on the path of innovation and new approaches.
Holding that increased adoption of technology platforms for delivering user friendly services is welcome and in line with the demands of the time, Naidu said that in a nutshell, the Railway Budget for 2015-16 embodies the 3-S mantra given by Prime Minister "skill, speed and scale".