Rail fares hiked, Mamata upset
PTI NEW DELHI PRESENTING a populist budget, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Wednesday announced marginal hike in passenger fares ranging from 2 paise per kilometre to 30 paise per kilometre in various categories of trains despite noting that Railways was passing through a “difficult phase“.
He also announced introduction of 75 express trains, 21 passenger trains and extension of 39 trains besides increase in the frequency of 23 trains.
Platform tickets have also been raised from Rs 3 to Rs 5
In his first Railway Budget, Trivedi announced increase in passenger fares by 2 paise per kmfor suburban and ordinary Second Class, 3 paise per km for Mail/Express Second Class and 5 paise per km for Sleeper Class, 10 paise per km for AC Chair Car, AC-3 Tier and First Class.
AC-2 Tier will cost more by 15 paise per km while AC-1 will be dearer by 30 paise per km. In his over 100-minute speech, Trivedi said these were aimed at rationalising the fares to cause “minimal impact” on the common man and “to keep the burden within tolerance limits in general“.
He said he had been counselled to go for steep increase in passenger fares as there had been no increase in last eight years but he desisted from doing so “guided by the overriding concern for aam aadmi (common man)“.
The proposed adjustments, he said, do not even cover fully the impact of increase in fuel prices during the last eight years.
“I am keeping the valuable passengers of Indian Railways insulated from the burden of increasing staff cost,” he said.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress put the railway minister on notice that it may replace him if he does not roll back the hike in passenger fares proposed by him in the railway budget.
Sudip Bandopadhyay, leader of the 19-member Trinamool group in the Lok Sabha, told PTI that a delegation of party MPs would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday to press for a roll back of the fares which was opposed by the party supremo Mamata Banerjee. The party would also move cut motion against the fare hike, he said. “We may propose another name for railway ministry,” he said.
“We may propose another name for railway ministry,” he said. However, Bandopadhyay hoped that Trivedi, who belongs to his party, would abide by the party directive and roll back the fare hike.
Bandopadhyay said, “we feel that this (hike) is antipeople policy. If necessary, we will move cut motion on the issue.” He said the party was not not in a mood to compromise on the issue at all. Trivedi, he said, represents Trinamool Congress in the government.
“We feel that some forces are trying to provoke from behind the scenes and we will expose them at the appropriate time.” Bandopadhyay said everyone should know that Trinamool is united and committed to its leader Mamata Banerjee. Those who do not not abide by the party directive may quit the party. “We have no no feelings for them,” Bandopadhyay said.
As leader of the Parliamentary Party, Bandopadhyay said he has communicated to Trivedi that the hike should be rolled back and reminded him that he was in that position because of the party.
Bandopadhyay said all the Trinamool MPs will hold a dharna in Parliament House complex tomorrow on the NCTC and fare hike issues.
However, Bandopadhyay hoped that Trivedi, who belongs to his party, would abide by the party directive and roll back the fare hike.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday termed the Railway Budget as “directionless” and “anti-people”, saying it will add to the woes of the common man already facing the brunt of spiralling prices.
“It is a directionless and anti-people budget,” BJP’s vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, adding that without taking effective steps for ensuring security, facility and time, “announcements have been made for an expensive journey”.
He said at a time when the common man was already under attack from the burden of price rise and inflation, “the railway budget has given another bigger blow”.
Naqvi said, “While the Railway Minister has announced a five-year plan for taking care of security, facility and time, the burden of increased fare has been slapped on the common man in five minutes.” BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar said the Rail Budget was “anti-aam aadmi” and there was no vision in the budget. “There is no vision. There is no action and passenger has been raised... prices will shoot up,” he said.