Mamata to flag off 40 trains on R-Day

Railways unable to meet fiscal target set in 2010
Last Updated 23 January 2011, 17:52 IST

With a severe financial crisis staring at her ministry, Banerjee is hell-bent on inaugurating new trains, a largesse she can afford. “For the new trains, rakes have been readied sometime back; but not a single service has been inaugurated in view of the preoccupation of senior political leaders,” a senior Railway official told the DHNS here.

“Since the Budget for 2011-12 is less than a month away, the minister has decided not to wait any longer.” According to the official,  Banerjee recently convened a high-level meeting of general managers of 17 zones to take stock of the fiscal situation and in the meet, the GMs painted a sordid picture of the financial status of the Railways.

What has been worrying the Railway minister is the inability of the department to meet the revenue targets in respect of both freight and passenger services set in the 2010-11 Budget. In a grim scenario, as against a target of an eight per cent hike in the total freight earnings, Railways is likely to slip from the minimum target set at the beginning of the fiscal.

One of the reasons blamed for this low freight earnings is the decision of the Karnataka and Orissa governments to stop dispatch of iron ore to other states that dug a gaping hole (Rs 2,500 crore) in the revenue earnings. Banerjee was reportedly quite cut up with the GMs for failing to come up with alternatives to mobilise income sources, the official said.

Things have come to such a pass that Banerjee is in the woods to allocate funds for new infrastructure projects in the pipeline. “A plethora of promises, not commensurate with matching ground level progress, has landed her into trouble and she might be compelled to seek a special fund from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to keep the infra projects going,” sources said.

During the meet, Banerjee was understood to have directed the GMs to ensure that freight trains run faster and deliver the goods on time. This would have a better impact on freight earnings, she felt and decided to constitute a task force to monitor the progress.

However, failed promises in some segments could bedevil her in days to come. For instance, out of a targetted construction of 1,019 kms of new track, the railways had built only 123 kms till the end of November 2010, sources quoting official documents stated.

Banerjee, aware of the delay, had instructed top officials to expedite work of laying the new track so that the figure could touch somewhere around 700 kms of the new line by the end of 2010-11.

(Published 23 January 2011, 17:52 IST)

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