Aug 24, 2016

Railway commuters want netas' freebies cut

Indian Railways recently conducted a feedback survey asking ways to reduce expenses of the public enterprises, and the respondents asked the authorities to do away with concessions for ministry officials.

BRIEFCASE
1. Indian railways conducted a survey to get feedback.

2. They wanted to know ways to reduce money spent on public enterprise.

3. The respondents said that Railways should stop giving freebies to netas.

A recent feedback drive by Indian Railways, which sought public opinion on how to bring down the expenses of the public enterprise, has drawn suggestions that may not go down well with the ministry babus.

The majority of respondents to the drive have called for doing away with concessions to railway employees on train journeys particularly after a significant hike in their salary and perks as recommended by the 7th Pay Commission.

FREEBIES WERE THE MAIN CAUSE OF LOSS TO THE EXCHEQUER

Officials handling the public feedback told Mail Today that the majority of suggestions felt these "freebies" were the main cause of loss to the exchequer. This assumes significance as railways have been urging beneficiaries like senior citizens to give up their concession even though it allowing free travel to M Ps, MLAs and its own employees.

Railways passengers enjoy about 43 per cent subsidy on their journeys. For the year 2015-16, the railways incurred an expenditure of `34,000 crore on 'social service obligation', according to their own figures. Out of this, `1,600 crore was spent on various concessions, in addition to the free journeys permitted to certain sections.

WHAT DID THE PUBLIC SAY

According to the sources, the respondents emphasised on timely execution of railway projects. For, they reasoned that delay in completion of projects amounted to cost escalation and additional financial burden on the railways. According to estimates, over 400 rail projects have been stuck for the last several years resulting in cost overrun of nearly Rs one lakh crore.

A number of respondents said the poor financial health of the railways on the slack attitude of its staff.

They suggested replacing 'lazy staff' with young energetic ones to speed up the functioning of the public behemoth. Delay in train operation was another major concern of commuters which was also attributed to the lax attitude of railway staff.

Railway's bid to redevelop its railway stations in partnership with private companies has, however, found appreciation from the respondents.

They said revamped railway stations would not only change the face of the carrier but also attract tourists who otherwise find air travel a more viable option. Railways have already decided to redevelop 400 stations as world class stations that will have shopping malls, star hotels, multiplexes and office space.

There were also suggestions to commercially exploit its station buildings and the unused land. Indian Railways has approximately 43,000 hectares of vacant land. Zonal railways have been asked to identify such land and hand over the same to Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) for commercial development.

Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu has also formed a separate directorate of non-fare revenue to explore ways to generate revenue without increasing rail fares.
Source - India today