After announcing a Railway Budget with no fare hikes, despite the fuel hike that will cost the Indian Railways Rs 850 crore, Railway Minister PK Bansal says he is just trying to meet the aspirational needs of the people.
Railway Minister P K Bansal today announced the Railway Budget 2013-14 with no basic fare hikes. This move was unexpected as the fuel hike has been costing the Indian Railways Rs 850 crore. On the lack of any fare hike, Bansal says he is just trying to meet the aspirational needs of the people.
In an interview to CNBC-TV18's Marya Shakeel, Bansal adds that he did not toe the populist line. The Budget, according to him, is an endeavour in the direction of meeting the demands of the people.
On the road ahead for the bleeding Railways, he says, "We have brought about certain changes in our policies. Five participative orders have been worked on and we hope to address the private investment to the tune of Rs 9000 crore this year."
Below is the edited transcript of Bansal’s interview to CNBC-TV18.
Q: How is it that you haven't hiked any prices?
We have been upfront with what we have done. It is not a backdoor thing or anything like that. There are no hidden charges. For those services, the impact of even increasing this would not be very substantial as far as the resources are concerned. In all, it comes to about Rs 480 crore only. Given the entire size of the revenue, it is a very small amount.
It was essential to rationalise our approach to these important services. There is no increase in the basic fare. The fuel adjustment component which I have worked out would have come to Rs 850 crore which we are not charging. On these accounts, one will appreciate when the time comes, that this is confined to three percent of the total passengers on the Indian railways.
Q: You have spoken about how the railways is bleeding at the moment. You have also gone ahead and announced 100 trains. So, have you not, infact toed the populist line?
A: It is not a populist line. This is meeting the aspirational needs of the people. Infact, I have not been able to meet the demand of the people. Somebody was talking to me saying that trains are overloaded so what are you doing about it? So, it is a little endeavour, an effort in the direction of meeting demands of the people.
Q: Why is the Public–private partnership (PPP) model not working in case of railways? It has worked in airport modernisation but why not railways?
A: As far as the railways are concerned, the gestation period of the railway project is very long. It takes a long time to build up a railway project. The land acquisition process is involved. In the case of the airports, there are existing airports. You build up an airport there, the terminal there. Here, the land has to be acquired. There are lot many things. The return is not commensurate with that always. We have brought about certain changes in our policies. Five participative orders have been worked on and we hope to address the private investment to the tune of Rs 9000 crore this year.