NDA ally PMK slams Railway budget, AIADMK welcomes

Reflecting its uneasy ties with BJP, NDA ally PMK on Thursday described the Railway Budget as "a big disappointment" with no reduction in passenger fare while AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa welcomed it saying the common man has been spared from fare hike.

PTI| Updated: Feb 26, 2015, 20:35 PM IST

Chennai: Reflecting its uneasy ties with BJP, NDA ally PMK on Thursday described the Railway Budget as "a big disappointment" with no reduction in passenger fare while AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa welcomed it saying the common man has been spared from fare hike.

Soon after BJP assumed office at the Centre, passenger fare was hiked by 14.5 per cent and it was disappointing that it had not been reduced, PMK founder leader S Ramadoss said.

"It is regrettable that no new trains or railway projects were announced," Ramadoss, whose party has been critical of several initiatives of NDA Government, said.

PMK had recently announced it would lead an alliance for the 2016 assembly polls, saying the NDA was only at the national level, a stand that has not gone well with BJP.

Alleging that Tamil Nadu was being ignored for the past six years in rail budgets, he said Rs 9,215 crore needed for pending projects in the state had not been allocated despite a representation sought by his party.

However, he had some words of praise saying the budget "also has laudable features including enhancement of passenger amenities and safety" and added such initiatives should be implemented soon.

Jayalalithaa welcomed the budget saying "it has not caused any additional burden to the common people while charting a path for the long term improvement of the Indian Railways."

It is, however, disappointing that the Railway Minister has not made the customarily much awaited announcements on introduction of new trains, she noted.

"The public eagerly looks foward to such announcements and would no doubt feel short-changed," she said.

She also welcomed steps to improve operating ratio, high priority for passenger safety particularly women, environmental sustainability, cleanliness and amenities.

Referring to 22 projects hanging in balance in Tamil Nadu due to fund crunch, she hoped the state's demands will be addressed after a review.

DMK President M Karunanidhi criticised the budget saying "Not only new projects have not been announced, several proposals have been given up midway, and in no way could this budget be welcomed."

Noting that passenger fare and freight tariff had not been lowered, he said this was the first time in the Railway's history that no new or additional trains had been announced.

Assailing non-allocation of funds for Tamil Nadu projects, he recalled his appeal earlier this month seeking allocation for 24 Tamil Nadu projects like the Erode-Palani link and said passengers will be hugely disappointed.

MDMK chief Vaiko, who recently quit the NDA, dubbed the budget as a "mirage," which has disappointed the general public who had "big expectations".

Permitting FDI to improve the basic infrastructure only showed the journey of railways towards privatisation, he claimed.