M A I N   N E W S

Mamata trashes Lalu’s claims on Rlys ‘turnaround’
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18
Keeping her long-standing promise, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee today presented in Parliament her much-anticipated ‘White Paper on Indian Railways’, refuting the tall claims of a ‘turnaround’ by her predecessor and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad during his five-year stewardship of the ministry.

In the 70-page report, she has questioned virtually all achievements highlighted by Indian Railways when Lalu was at the helm of affairs during the first term of the UPA government. However, she was careful enough not to mention her predecessor and now bete noire by name anywhere in the white paper.

In the chapter on the performance of the Railways from 2004-05 to 2008-09, the white paper says there has been an impression in recent years that a significant turnaround in railways finances has taken place during the last five years. However, a significant part of the increase in freight and passenger earnings was due to the unprecedented growth in the economy.

Noting that the so-called ‘turnaround’ of Indian Railways in recent times has been a subject matter of considerable interest and deliberations both in India and outside, the voluminous document says while the operational as well as financial performance of the railways in the past five years has been satisfactory, doubts have been expressed about the quantum of ‘cash surplus’.

“Government accounting is cash based and not accrual based. The additional financial burden on Railways in the form of enhanced salaries and pension as a result of the implementation of the recommendations of the sixth Central Pay Commission do not, therefore, get reflected in the years the liability has actually accrued. The entire impact of the arrears of enhanced salaries and pension was borne during 2008-09 and 2009-10.’’

Lalu was present in the Lok Sabha when Mamata laid it on the table of the House amid the din by members from Andhra Pradesh over the Telangana issue. Later, the RJD leader rubbished the document as a ‘Black Paper’ and not a ‘White Paper’. Lalu had claimed a cash surplus of nearly Rs 90,000 crores during his tenure, which had earned him kudos from all quarters, including the international media.

Mamata also released a ‘Vision 2020’ document, listing the goals of her ministry. It would be the endeavour of Indian railways to expand its route network at the rate of 2500 km per annum. By 2020, some 25,000 km of new line would be added and almost the entire network (barring the hill and heritage railways) would be in Broad Gauge. This would include completion of the pending shelf of new line projects of 11,985 km. 



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