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Gowda derails HP

Railway Minister Gowda has disappointed the people of Himachal Pradesh with his first Railway Budget. It has given Himachal nothing other than some assurance of surveys for two new rail lines in the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency. The minister says that he is open to rectifying the shortcomings in the budget. He may please undo the injustice done to Himachal Pradesh by doing something for the Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line which is strategically important. This link will go a long way in strengthing the border with China, promoting tourism and creating jobs for the youth of the region.

Dr Surjit Singh, Shimla

HP gets raw deal

Himachal Pradesh and the North-Eastern states are always given a raw deal in the rail budgets. The two narrow gauge railway tracks in Himachal Pradesh, which the government brandishes as its prized possessions, are a gift from the Raj era, commissioned more than 80 years ago. Government apathy is evident from the fact that ever since the British left India, not even an inch has been added to these tracks. Despite the fact that the Kangra valley railway track, if extended to Leh, can be of great strategical advantage over both Pakistan and China, no railway minister has ever given it a thought.

I wonder what the wisdom is in starting a bullet train at a huge expenditure of Rs 70,000 crore when the hill states have a non-existent railway infrastructure. The Railway Budget should be more inclusive rather than being expansive as has been the case.

The economists and budget planners must realise that in order to save the country from a lopsided and unbalanced growth, more development is required in states where geographical conditions are a challenge. Such states must be given their due share in the budget, irrespective of the number of MPs being sent by them to Parliament.

Sharat Ralhan, Ghuggar (Palampur)

Heartless budget

The Railway Budget 2014-2015 is a heartless one, showing little concern for a comfortable and dignified travel by the common public. The slightly high-tech and robotic budget will please the corporates and private sector. It should have focused on improving the quality of services offered to the millions of daily commuters who are forced to travel in atrocious conditions. Emphasis is more on high-speed trains than on the safety of passengers and accident-free journeys. How long will the common man continue to travelling in overcrowded trains, hanging like a monkey on the doorway? Grand luxury projects like bullet trains to make India look modern and advanced like China are hare-brained ideas.


PPP model anti-poor

Apropos the editorial “From mass to class” (July 9) regarding the Railway Budget, I think that what is being termed as populism is in fact social responsibility towards the deprived and poor sections of society. As a social democratic republic, India can’t escape from its social responsibilities, particularly in infrastructure, education and health. With this budget, the BJP has exposed its agenda to promote corporatisation of the Railways by allowing FDI for both national and international players. If projects are financed through the public-private partnership route, the costs will go out of reach of the poor. Look how PPP has increased the cost of road travel with the imposition of huge toll taxes.

Dr Vitull K. Gupta, Bathinda

PPP practical solution

This is with reference to the editorial “From mass to class” (July 9) and the news on the Railway Budget that proposes to increase the efficiency, sufficiency and equity in the Indian Railways. Sadananda Gowda has danced to the tune of the times in terms of the public-private partnership (PPP) model and it is the practical solution.

The reservation of tickets for first class AC should be available to income taxpayers only and the rest should pay 30 per cent extra. Foreign investment is all right if it comes with the latest technical knowhow. For the increased number of daily travellers, there is an urgent need of toilets in EMUs. There is no scheme for improving the performance of the Railway staff.

Dr MM Goel, Kurukshetra

Same old coin

The editorial says that the Railways will focus on freight and modernisation (July 9). The same old coin has been served by this government and neglecting the East. No triangle railway service has been declared from Kolkata. The cultural capital finds no importance in the Rail Budget-2014. Modernisation has been a paper tiger in every budget. Security was given priority in the previous budget, but in application, we saw that it was totally in vain. Time will tell what the fate of the focus on freight and modernisation will be.

Rathin Kumar Chanda, Hooghly

Complete budget

The Rail Budget is highly appreciable for its focus on aspects that will boost the economy. Women’s safety, which is our prime concern, figures in the top list. Cleanliness, wi-fi, bio-toilets, upgradation of stations, escalators, food courts, battery-operated cars for the handicapped, milk, fruits and vegetables in AC trains, mobile alerts for upcoming stations, food order via SMS, internship for technical students, door automation, women constables’ recruitment, PPP and FDI touch every section of the people.

Nikhil Sharma, Bilaspur

Vested interest at play?

The region has still not got the Chandigarh-Jammu-Katra rail link. Is it to protect the interests of influential politicians who run AC buses on this route?

Sanjay Chona, Shimla

Don’t hurry

The Railway Budget rightly places emphasis on security, technology, quality of service, cleanliness, better food service, connectivity and modernity. The Railways could certainly do with modernisation, cleanliness and security. Time-bound programmes should be chalked out and announced with regard to new projects. Rather than hurrying with details and later rectifying them and losing public confidence, it is better that preparatory steps are given adequate attention before being announced.

SC Dhall, via emai

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