Trivedi wants more budget support for Rail safety
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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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