Panel recommends Rs 1.65 cr for overhauling Railways

With the Union budget round the corner, a high-level panel on modernisation of the Railways recommended an annual allocation of Rs 1.65 crore for overhaul of the Indian Railways, for five years.

The Railways suffers from a “severe and chronic under-investment,” said the committee headed by adviser to the Prime Minister Sam Pitroda.

The committee also recommended trebling of the annual Gross Budgetary Support for the Railways to Rs 50,000 crore to Railways this year and continue with that for the next five years spread over the 12th five-year plan period. 

The modernisation can be a tool for inclusive growth and development of the country, with a potential to  contribute up to 2 per cent of India’s gross domestic product.

The Indian Railways, with a projected annual revenue base of Rs 1,06,000 crore on March 31, 2012, employs 1.36 million people.

“The highly critical industrial inputs like coal which contributes nearly 45 per cent to Railways freight traffic will get the much needed special attention as a modernised Railways system will focus on efficient evacuation, movement, and delivery of coal or other important goods in a much more effective manner,” said the report.

Volleying questions on mobilisation of funds for the ambitious plan, Railways minister Dinesh Trivedi said: “While close to 25 per cent of the funding will come from the gross budgetary support, the majority would form Railways internal generation, involving among other things, the commercial use of land and airspace at stations and other railway properties.”

Asked whether the cash-strapped government is equipped to bear the cost of the trebled gross budgetary support, Trivedi said: “We have to push for our demand, then only the finance minister will be able to incorporate these in his own budget.”

Buttressing his claim for a hike in grant for the Railways, Trivedi said the entire food security programme “will fall flat” if the Railways fails to transport food efficiently.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways has already written to the prime minister and the finance minister seeking more Central funds.

Laying stress on the execution of projects on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode,  the Pitroda committee also suggested raising close to Rs 2.30 lakh crore through PPP projects.

Other recommendations included modernisation of Railways’ core assets, exploring new revenue models and mobilising resources including human capital.

The report comes a week after Anil Kakodkar committee gave its recommendations on Railways safety.

 

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