New Delhi: BJP today sought to defend the government's decision to hike both passenger fares and freight rates saying it has only implemented what the previous government proposed and got approved in the interim budget.
“The hike was already proposed by the previous government and the interim rail budget was passed in Parliament,” BJP Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
He said the BJP had not opposed the linking of fares and freight rates with the fuel prices as proposed by previous UPA regime in Parliament as it understands the needs of Railways in modernising its infrastructure and ensuring safety.
“Parliament has already approved the policy of linking the passenger fares and freight rates with the fuel prices,” he said justifying that there was no need for the government to seek Parliament approval on this hike.
Hussain said the UPA government had already initiated the fare hike ahead of its tenure ending, but it was kept in abeyance by the new government in view of the Model Code of Conduct in force.
“We understand the needs of Railways in modernising its infrastructure and in ensuring safety of passengers. We will come with our Rail Budget which will bring out our plans of introducing bullet trains and modernising Railways,” he said.
The NDA will come up to the people's expectations of introducing fast trains, improve the amenities in trains and also ensure safety of passengers, he said.
“We also want to strengthen railway tracks and introduce bullet trains. Railways is suffering a loss of around Rs 900 crore per month and its financial health needs to be improved for it to provide better services to people,” he said.
Cash-strapped railways effected a steep across-the-board hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares in all classes and a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates to garner Rs 8000 crore a year.
The decision will come into effect from June 25.