Laying emphasis on capacity expansion, decongestion of network and passenger safety, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said a massive Rs 8.5 lakh crore would be pumped in over the next five years to make it a viable organisation and bring back the road traffic.
Replying to the Rail Budget in the Rajya Sabha, he allayed apprehensions about workers being retrenched as the public transporter seeks increased private participation and said that funds would be sought from multi-lateral agencies like World Bank, ADB and IFC.
Hitting out at opposition criticism, he said the Railway Budget has not discriminated against any state and listed out the enhanced allocations to states across the country.
“We will have to work on many issues. There has been less investment in the Railways. We have not been able to put in money and as a result Railways has lost to roads in attracting goods traffic. Less investment has also led to clogging of the network and delays in train movements,” Prabhu said.
Stating that Railways would require Rs 8.50 lakh crore in the next five years, the Minister said that Rs 2 lakh crore would be utilised for network decongestion and an equal amount would be spent for network expansion.
Besides, Rs 40,000 crore would be utilised for implementing national projects in places like Jammu & Kashmir and another Rs 1,27,000 crore would be spent on addressing safety issues.
Referring to the recent pact with LIC for getting Rs 1.5 lakh crore, Prabhu said his Ministry expected Rs three lakh crore from the Finance Ministry as gross budgetary support in next five years, besides borrowings from multi-lateral agencies like World Bank, ADB and IFC.
With fuel cornering 25 per cent of its expenditure and a massive 50 per cent going to to meet staff expenses, the Minister said the Railways proposed to increase volume of operations to offset the cost borne on salary and other expenditure.
“This is the strategy that we are adopting to plough back money to meet Railways’ expansion plans,” Prabhu said.
Allaying apprehensions by members, he said “there is no plan to retrench any employee of Railways” which would take care of their welfare and concerns.
On the safety issue, he said that 3,400 unmanned level crossings would be eliminated and 9,000 road over-bridges and road under-bridges would be constructed to prevent accidents as most of them happen on these crossings.