Updated: March 17, 2020 5:45:12 pm
Several Rajya Sabha members on Tuesday raised concerns over the poor financial health of the railways, decline in job opportunities and delay in execution of major projects, besides privatisation of the national transporter.
Participating in a discussion on the working of the Ministry of Railways, several members referred to the large number of vacancies in the railways and said these should be filled up, thereby providing job opportunities to the young generation.
Binoy Viswam of the CPI said the railways has around three lakh vacancies and these should be filled up.
Opposing privatisation of trains and stations, he said the national transporter has “forgotten its social aspect and social commitment”.
V Vijayasai Reddy of the YSRCP said the railways now has an operating ratio of 98.4 per cent, which is the worst in last 10 years.
Moreover, the railways’ revenue surplus is also falling and suggested that “priority should be given to augmentation of its internal resources.”
He also said that fatality due to accidents has declined this year and hygiene at railway station has improved.
Sanjay Singh of the AAP said that employment opportunities are being ignored by the railways. The government is increasing outsourced works in the railways, where contractual labourers are being exploited.
Praful Patel of the NCP raised concerns over the delay in several railways projects and suggested that the government should think of cost benefit analysis of major works.
He, however, supported PPP model in the railways, saying “we should be open minded.”
Jose K Mani of the KCM said that the railway is overloaded with work and several projects such as doubling of line in Kerala are long delayed.
Neeraj Shekhar of the BJP said the Opposition is misguiding the people about performance of the railways. Indian Railways has performed well in last five years, he said.
The railways has installed 2.38 lakh bio-toilets between 2014 and 2018. It has a capital expenditure of over Rs one lakh crore, has done doubling of 28,000 km tracks.
Highlighting the safety records, Shekhar said that it has not witnessed a single accident in last one year.
Over the operating ratio, he said that it was due to implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission by the government in the railways.
Shekhar also criticised TMC member Derek O’Brien, who had earlier alleged step-motherly treatment to states governed by parties other than the BJP, particularly West Bengal.
According to him, the government has put 20 per cent more fund to West Bengal than the allocation made under a railway minister from the TMC. He also said several projects in West Bengal were stuck as the state government was not providing land to the railways.
Husain Dalwai of the Congress said that the revenue of the Indian Railways should be increased.
Dalwai also raised the safety issue of the Mumbai suburban trains, saying that according to GRP data, 3,202 people died in 2016-17 and 3,014 in 2018-19. He asked the railways to enhance the security measures to reduce the high number of fatalities.
R S Bharathi of the DMK said that the government should complete the second unit of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Perambur.
Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD, Veer Singh of the BSP and V P Vaishya of the AGP and K K Ragesh of CPI(M) also participated in the debate and raised concerns over the privatisation of the railways.
Mir Mohammad Fayaz of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party said, “We do not want bullet train. We should be contended with rail connectivity with the rest of the network.”
Ram Narain Dudi of the BJP demanded that rail connectivity should be provided for the pilgrim centre of Pushkar in Rajasthan.
The others who participated in the debate are G C Chandrasekhar (Congress), Kahkashan Perween (JDU), Jugalsinh Mathurji Lokhandwala (BJP), Anil Desai (Shiv Sena) and Satish Chandra Dubey (BJP).
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