Trivedi wants more budget support for Rail safety

Last Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 - 00:13

Kolkata: Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi
on Sunday said the huge funds required for implementing safety
measures in railways cannot be generated by fare hike alone
and the Centre must give a huge budgetary support for it.

"I am certainly concerned about safety. And, we require
huge money for safety. I think the Railways have outlived its
utility as of now. We have to rebuild the entire railway
system in the country almost all over again. And, I must tell
you, fare hike is a very small portion of it," Trivedi told
newsmen on the sidelines of a function at the Howrah station.

Asked whether his Ministry was mulling a fare hike
through a safety cess, he said it was one of the suggestions
of the Safety Committee.

"But we don`t have to really take that suggestion. There
are other ways like budgetary support, internal resource
generation, PPP and external borrowing. I think a mix of all
four things is usually done," he said.

Pointing out that fare hike alone could not generate Rs
14 lakh crore in 10 years or Rs 8 lakh crore in 5 years, he
said a big amount has to come for budgetary support.

"The Government of India can give Rs 19,000 crore to bail
out Air India and what do we get in railways? Rs 20,000 crore
for such a huge system. I think somewhere down the line the
priority of the government has to change. Because Rail has no
alternates. And, even if you want to have Food Security Bill
successful, you cannot do without rail. Food cannot go by
air," he said.

Trivedi said, however, if the Centre failed to help, he
would have to look for resources himself. "I can`t steal. I
have to borrow, I have to beg. And, I am quite capable of
augmenting resource, but I need support from all over. I need
big support from the Finance Ministry and the Centre.

"I need overall support from everybody. Without total
resource, it becomes difficult. And, if we only milk the
Railways and don`t plow back then I`m afraid it can go the Air
India way too," he said.

Trivedi, who had earlier called for setting up an
independent Railway Safety Board, said the present Railway
Board must also have a Member (Safety) and Member (Revenue) to
improve the functions in those areas.

"Today we do not have a member who thinks about how to
get revenue. I have bifurcated the stations. Stations can give
you thirty per cent of the revenue. But this is long term. It
cannot happen tomorrow. I have all my plans in place, but I
must get the opportunity to ensure that I unveil my plans," he
said.

In reply to a question, he said that the report of the
Railway Modernisation Committee was almost ready.
On the question of giving more powers to the RPF, he said
that he could not announce it unilaterally and the matter
would have to be debated in the Parliament.

"But I think somebody, some agency must take
responsibility and accountability. We need to have one agency
and we will give full freedom to all those in GRP to come to
RPF. Or go to the states. This cannot happen without taking
everybody together. Without talking to the states. And, that
process will go through the Parliament," he said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, February 20, 2012 - 00:13

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