The Railway Budget 2015-16 breaks new grounds in the sense that it lays down the ‘thrust areas’ of Action Plan’ – de-congesting networks, last mile connectivity projects and introduction of high speed rail in certain railway corridors. For the first time, the Budget speaks of transforming the Indian Railways as its core objective and presents a ‘Vision 2030’ document along with White Paper and Budget Statement for 2015-16, says Shri Arun Kumar Saraf, President of MCC Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The Budget speaks of building partnership with the key stake-holders viz. States, PSUs, Multi-lateral Institutions and Governments to collect funds for long-term financing and latest technology for building up capacity, expanding fleet of rolling stock and modernising the station infrastructure.
Passenger Fare has not been raised and it is welcome. But the Freight charges have been hiked in general and on a number of industrial inputs like Cement (2.7 p.c.), Coal (6.3 p.c.), Urea (10 p.c.) and so on. This will impact adversely on industrial projects and is contrary to India’s core objective of ‘make in India’.
It is also not clear what specific steps have been proposed in the Budget to accelerate and complete the ‘work-in-progress’ relating to factories for manufacturing rolling stock, extension-work of Metro Railways and commissioning of some new Railway linkages which are under construction.
Shri Saraf says, it is however encouraging that the Plan Outlay has been raised to over Rs.1 lac crore – a rise of 52 p.c. over the RE of 2014-15 and a number of new instruments devised to raise the resources.