New Delhi: Indian Railways have received proposals totalling Rs 15,000 crore for development of various projects under the PPP mode, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said today.
Gowda also defended the recent 14.2 per cent passenger fare hike and 6.5 per cent freight hike saying it was the need of the hour as there was no hike for the last 10 years and the organisation was “run on unrealistic and impractical approach.”
“This Rail Budget is a budget with a difference. I have steered away from populism and focused on increasing revenue, harnessing new technology and safety and security,” he said.
As regards the investments so far, he said, “We have received 79 last mile connectivity proposals, 22 private freight terminals, production units, sidings. In total Rs 15,000 crore worth commitments have been received in the recent past.”
The Rail Budget 2014-15 was later passed by the House after a discussion during which Opposition members picked holes in his proposals.
Responding to the concerns of members of relying too much on FDI for development of railways, the Minister clarified that it will not be allowed in the core operation of railways.
He said foreign investment will be permitted only in big ticket projects like high speed corridor, dedicated freight corridor and suburban trains.
“FDI in railways is a positive signal to investors. It will be encouraged in railway infrastructure and not allowed in operation,” he said.
On fare hike, Gowda said, “Fare hike was implemented by my government because it was the need of the hour...it was long overdue and there was no hike in the last 10 years.”
Responding to the criticism by opposition members that the Minister has not given anything to state like West Bengal and Bihar, he said that maximum allocation was made to West Bengal (Rs 3,280 crore) followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar.
He said focus will be on completion of ongoing projects.
The Minister emphasised that even while raising passenger fares, he had made all efforts to ensure that common man was not burdened.
Still sleeper class fare is only one third of what is being charged by bus for same distance, he said.
He said concerns of all states have been taken care of and gave details of allocation made to some of the states.
As Congress MPs from Kerala protested against the budget saying the state has been ignored, Gowda said a joint study group along with state officials will be set up to address concerns and land acquisition hurdles of the state.
“We will also like to have a pilgrim circuit in Kerala as it has many famous temples like Guruvayur and Sabarimala,” he added.