Jan 31, 2017

Budget to decide fate of pending railway projects

PATNA: As there will be no separate railway budget this year, all eyes will be on general budget to be presented by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Fate of several railway projects in Bihar will be decided in the budget.

Although railways has accorded top priority to safety of passengers, much would depend on allocation of funds in the general budget, said a Railway Board official.
Another railway official said the merger of railway budget with general budget would hit the functioning of the railways. "Railway budget was a medium for each zone and division to chalk out strategy for development of the railways," he added.

"Sanctioning of new lines, introduction of new trains, modernisation, passenger amenities, bridge rehabilitation, track maintenance and healthcare were parts of railway budget. Now, the Railway Board is governed by the bureaucrats and the railways will have to depend on annual budgetary allocation by the finance ministry," said another Railway Board official. "The autonomy of railway ministry has been curbed to give way to bureaucrats to rule the railways," he added.

However, former general manger of East Central Railway (ECR) Madhuresh Kumar said the merger was a historic decision as the railways is no longer required to pay huge financial burden of dividends to finance ministry. "The cash-strapped railways would get a new lease of life," he said.

Another railway expert hoped that the pending Bihar projects would get a momentum in the merged general budget. - TOI