The Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU) expressed serious concern at the BJP Govt’s first Railway Budget, 2014-15 which declares its dependence on so called public private partnership, private investment including FDI for funding its infrastructural and capacity augmentation projects. It reflects nothing but continuity of the same pro-corporate policy of the much discredited Congress Regime, rather in more aggressive form.
Just weeks before the Railway Budget, steep hike in passenger fares and freight charges to the tune of 14.2% and 6.5 % respectively exposed the brazen undemocratic as well as anti-people modus operandi of the BJP Govt. Added to this is the budgetary announcement of linking the future prices of travel with fuel adjustment factor which will result in virtual deregulation of railway fares providing for automatic increase in railway fares with the increase in price of fuel. This is nothing but an arrangement for perpetual increase of burden on common people.
Further, the thrust on PPP, FDI and outsourcing in various segments of railway operation and services as outlined in the current Railway Budget, is going to make the situation worse. Despite abject failure of the same exercise on depending on PPP route for infrastructural expansion and services during the UPA regime as reflected in plan expenditure in 2013-14 falling short by a whopping “Rs 59,359 crore from the target due to non-materialisation of PPP targets”, the Modi Govt also preferred to stick to the same provenly failed route. This means, either the expansion work will suffer or the private investors’ lobby will extract more undue concessions from the Govt in the process of their response, finally increasing the burden on the common people. Precisely, that had been the past experience of all PPP projects in sea-ports, airports, roads etc during the UPA’s tenure which increased the burden on the consumers and the people in a big way.
Despite admitting in the budget the abject failure of the Railways to implement the declared and sanctioned projects even to an insignificant extent, resulting in huge accumulation of unfulfilled projects announced in successive budgets, the current Budget failed to present any concrete roadmap for their execution except giving sound bites on prioritization, time frame etc. Even the new announcements made in the current budget do not have appropriate budgetary back-up, rendering them to be deceptive in real sense.
The Budget sounded high on Govt’s commitment to safety, but kept absolute silence about filling up around 3 lakh vacancies in the Railways, majority of which are related to management and maintenance of safety standards in railway operation.
CITU records its condemnation to this anti-people and privatization oriented Railway Budget and calls upon the working people to voice their protest against such retrograde exercise of the Modi Govt.