Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Loksatta welcomes departure from populism in railway budget

The Loksatta Party today welcomed the genuine effort by Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda to “end the era of reckless populism and lay the foundation for improved traffic infrastructure.”

In a media statement, Loksatta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that the broad trajectory of the railway budget is in keeping with the NDA Government’s objective of accelerating economic growth and creating employment.

Dr. JP said the emphasis on public-private partnership and private investments and the determination to make decisions based on commercial and viability considerations are welcome departures from ad hoc measures that punctuated the earlier regime for a decade.

While welcoming the Railway Minister’s initiative to improve track and start high speed trains, Dr. JP pointed out that bullet trains will be highly expensive and unviable unless traffic density is very high and passengers are willing and capable of paying high fares. Against such a backdrop, it is pleasing to note that the Railway Minister is ready to pursue low-cost options after a survey by the Japanese.

Dr. JP also suggested that an independent statutory railway authority be created to maintain the track and signalling systems so that there can be genuine competition between public and private train operators.

Referring to the focus on Maharashtra and Karnataka in the railway budget, Dr. JP noted that old habits die hard. The Government should take decisions based on economic rationale and commercial viability and not succumb to populism in such a vital sector as the railways.

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