M A I N   N E W S

Mamata rolls out please-all budget
Lion’s share for her home state West Bengal
Girja Shankar Kaura/TNS



  • No hike in passenger fare and freight rates
  • Highest ever plan outlay of Rs 57,630 crore proposed
  • Rs 9,583 crore provided for new lines
  • 1,300 km new lines, 867 km doubling of lines and 1,017 km gauge conversion targeted in 2011-12
  • 56 new Express Trains, 3 new Shatabdis & 9 Durontos to be introduced
  • 16,000 ex-servicemen to be given jobs in railways
  • Ten-year backlog of 1.75 lakh jobs to be addressed

More for the Metros

  • Durontos on the Allahabad-Mumbai, Pune-Ahmedabad, Sealdah-Puri, Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam, Madurai-Chennai routes
  • Rail linkage to Gujarat from Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor
  • Integrated suburban network to be set up in Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad
  • Trolleys to be introduced at railway stations

Region routes

  • A bridge factory in Jammu & Kashmir and a state-of-art institute for tunnel and bridge engineering proposed at Jammu
  • New Shatabdi to link Ludhiana-Delhi
  • New weekly train, "Vivek Express", on Bandra (T)-Jammu Tawi Express route via Marwar-Degana- Ratangarh -Jakhal-Ludhiana

Bonanza for Bengal

  • 30 new trains for the state
  • Industrial park in Nandigram, Metro coach factory for Singur
  • Centre for excellence in software at Darjeeling
  • 50 new services for suburbs in Kolkata and Metro to expand its network
  • Two non-stop trains between Bardhman and Howrah

New for the nation

  • Concession for senior citizens increased from 30% to 40%
  • Age for senior women citizens’ concession reduced to 58 from 60
  • Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana to be launched
  • Student special trains to be started; start of Rajrani Express
  • Multi-purpose smart card to be introduced for all-India travel
  • Concession for the handicapped and gallantry award winners in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express

New Delhi, February 25
For the third year in a row, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee made an attempt to come out with the “aam aadmi” budget sparing the passengers and industry from fare and freight hikes and announcing the highest ever investment of Rs 57,630 crore, with 68 new trains.

Presenting her third Railway Budget in UPA-II in the Lok Sabha, Mamata vowed to build a stronger railroad infrastructure based on the Vision 2020 document while announcing a slew of concessions, including reducing the eligibility age of senior women citizens from 60 to 58 years and raising the fare concession for senior citizens (above 60) from 30 to 40 per cent.

The Railway Minister sought to reach out to the common man with announcements of allocating more money for safety, setting up of several industrial parks under the public-private model and starting new coach factories.

And apparently with an eye on the coming Assembly polls in West Bengal, she came out with a number of projects for the state, including a metro coach factory in Singur and 30 new trains.

Apart from new trains, the 2011-12 budget has sought to extend the services of 33 trains, increase frequencies of 17 others, conduct 107 line surveys to identify new routes, start double-decker trains on Jaipur-Delhi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai routes and introduce super AC class.

The budget also sought to extend the concession to physically challenged people to all Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, besides extending facility of card passes to parents of unmarried posthumous Paramvir Chakra and Ashok Chakra gallantry award winners and make 50 per cent concession for mediapersons and families twice a year.

She also announced the launch of a multi-purpose pan-India smart card "Go India" for seamlessly paying for tickets for long distance, suburban and metro trains. The booking charges for AC as well as non-AC seats have been slashed by 50 per cent and online ticketing is all set to get cheaper. A new portal for e-tickets will levy a lower charge of Rs 10 for airconditioned and Rs 5 for other classes.

In her 90-minute speech, Mamata said, “In this budget, we have attempted to combine a strong economic focus with an equivalent emphasis on social inclusion with a humane face.” In the previous two budgets for the UPA government, Banerjee had announced 57 new trains in 2009-10 and another 54 a year later, without altering the freight or passenger fares. The budget estimates for 2011-12 project a freight loading of 993 million tonne and a passenger growth of 6.4 per cent. Ordinary working expenses have been estimated at Rs 73,650 crore and appropriation to depreciation reserve fund pegged at Rs 7,000 crore.

A provision of Rs 6,735 crore has been made for dividend payment and the excess for railways for the new fiscal has been projected at Rs 5,258 crore, with an operating ratio of 98.1 per cent. Gross traffic receipts have been fixed at Rs 94,840 crore, which is higher by Rs 75 crore over budget estimates. The ordinary working expenses have been fixed at Rs 67,000 crore. The next year's budget provides Rs 9,583 crore for new lines. A target of 1,300 km of new lines, 867 km of doubling of lines and 1,017 km of gauge conversion has been targeted.

Meanwhile, the budget evoked a positive response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Hailing Mamata, he said no hike in freight and passenger fares would reduce inflation. “It is a common man's budget without increase in freight and passenger fares, thereby it will help to weaken cost push element of inflation," Manmohan Singh said. Indian Railways, the world’s second largest under a single management, has a network of 64,099 km to ferry as many as 18.9 million passengers on 7,000 trains daily from 6,906 stations. It also runs 4,000 freight trains to carry 850 million tonne of cargo.





Taking the bilingual route to counter her critics!

New Delhi: She is known to call spade a spade and take on anyone who dares to question her intellect. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee did just that as she presented her third budget of the UPA-II government, her overall fifth, today.

In her 90-minute speech, Mamata shouted at times while on other occasions she cajoled and smiled. She spoke heavily accented Urdu and Hindi and even recited poetry. Her liberal doses of histrionics had her audience in the Lok Sabha infuriated and amused alternatively.

The Railway Minister was at her combative best during the multilingual presentation of the 2011-12 rail budget. "Stop it", the leader from West Bengal shouted several times during the speech and sought to catch the attention of the restive MPs protesting over priority being given to West Bengal (her home state) by saying "dhyan se suno" (listen attentively).

But she was a picture of confidence as she had to raise her voice often to make herself heard in the din. With her Urdu poetry, she had her UPA colleagues amused, especially with the way she was taking on the Opposition. She made the budget presentation entertaining by frequently departing from the text to address the House.

“Hum aah bhi bharte hain toh ho jaate hai badnaam, woh qatl bhi karte hain to charcha nahin hota," Banerjee said in heavily Bengali-accented Urdu towards the beginning of the presentation in an apparent reference to all the criticism that the railways faces every time something goes wrong while all the good work done is ignored.

She went further by saying "agar jiyein toh kamyabi milegi". Despite being ill at ease with Hindi, she went on to recite words from the famous war song "Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon", the song which sung by Lata Mangeshkar had emotionally moved country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Opposition, which frequently disrupted her budget speech, was for once quiet as she recited the couplet.

Giving cultural touch to her speech, she quoted Tagore, "Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might" and cited Vivekananda's famous words “Strength is life and weakness is death”.

The presentation also saw Banerjee and her predecessor Lalu Prasad spewing anger at each other. As she announced projects for poll-bound West Bengal, her predecessor objected to the benefits to the Left-ruled state. As some other MPs joined in the ruckus, Banerjee retorted: "I am proud of my state!" But she got back at her predecessor in another way too. After mentioning projects in Patna and Gaya, she asked angrily: "Is Patna not in Bihar?"





Ludhiana gets Shatabdi to Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
A new Shatabdi train between Ludhiana and New Delhi, a mechanised laundry unit at Chandigarh, a passenger coach terminal at Ludhiana, a ‘bridge factory’ and an Institute for Tunnel Engineering in Jammu and Kashmir are among the announcements for the region that figured in the Railway Budget on Friday.

While the Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi currently has a brief stopover at Ludhiana, very few seats are available for passengers from Ludhiana. The new Ludhiana-New Delhi-Ludhiana Shatabdi will make it easier to travel the 300 km distance. Ludhiana MP Manish Tiwari hoped that the Ludhiana Railway Station would also figure among the 200 stations, which are going to be upgraded and modernised.

In addition, the Vivek Express will run weekly from Bandra to Jammu Tawi via Ludhiana. The Chandigarh-Jaipur Garib Rath Express has been extended to Ajmer. The Lucknow-Saharanpur Express too has been extended up to Chandigarh while Ambala-Amritsar DMU has been extended to Kurukshetra.

Yet another new train announced in the Rail Budget is the Abohar-Fazilka passenger train. The track between Abohar and Fazilka was sanctioned in 2004 and work on it has been completed recently. The Ferozepur DRM said the new train is expected to be made operational within the next few weeks.

The Railway Budget, however, has been severely criticised by the Chief Ministers of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Accusing Mamata Banerjee of catering to her own state, they described the budget as disappointing and bitterly complained that there is little or nothing in the budget for the region.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, however, expressed his satisfaction and said that many of the trains announced, including the Ludhiana Shatabdi, would benefit Haryana as well. The state, he said, would also benefit from new survey and electrification works, which are to be undertaken in the next fiscal.





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