New Delhi: In a Women`s Day gift, Railway
Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced free monthly seasonal
tickets -- for local travel -- to girls till their college
"All girl up to college level will get free monthly
seasonal tickets," she said in the Rajya Sabha, winding up a
discussion on the Rail Budget 2011-12.
Besides, the minister announced setting up vocational
training centres for girls.
With the Upper House returning it, the Rail budget
received Parliament`s nod. The Lok Sabha has already passed
the budget which did not impose any hike in fare or freight
Banerjee said Railways` earnings from freight rose despite
losses due to non-loading of minerals in Orissa and Karnataka
because of local problems.
She said her department was able to save about Rs 4,000
crore from austerity measures. "This is a good leasson...we
want to continue it," she said.
Referring to a comparison on China`s development of
railways with India, she said, in democracy the railway has
About the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Railways,
she said a committee was working on it. She also mentioned
that anti-collision devices would soon be introduced in more
railway zones to prevent mishaps.
The Rail budget, which proposed the highest-ever plan
outlay of Rs 57,630 crore for 2011-12, spared passengers of
any increase in fares and introduced 56 new trains, including
nine non-stop Duronto trains and three Shatabdis.
The Budget also announced a slew of concessions including
reducing the eligibility age of senior women citizens from 60
to 58 years and the fare concession for men above 60 from 30
to 40 per cent.
Earlier in the day, Bannerjee came under attack in the
House from CPI-M for raising freight before presentation of
the Rail Budget.
Participating in the debate on the Rail Budget, Shayamal
Chakraborty (CPI-M) said contrary to the announcement of no
rise in rates, "freight of essential items like sugar and salt
were raised just before the Budget."
Another member Ganga Charan (BSP) said the interests of
the common masses were put on the backburner. "Railways should
pay attention to cleanliness as its stations and toilets were
littered with filth and garbage," he said.
Baisnab Parida (BJD), A Elavarasan (AIADMK) and Gundu
Sudha Rani (TDP) said Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh
have been given step-motherly treatment in the Rail Budget.
Seeking improvement in catering services, Mohammed Ali
Khan (Cong) said, "According to reliable sources, contract of
catering is given to one single company."
Bimla Kashyap Sood (BJP), Khekiho Zhimomi (Nagaland`s
People Front), Mahendra Mohan (SP), Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP),
Sabir Ali (LJP) and Maya Singh (BJP) were among others who
participated in the debate.