Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Comment on R. Jagnatthan's "Rail Budget 2014-15: A holding operation, for dreams cost money"

Jagannathanji, you actually missed the important point, Sadananda Gowda is actually fooling like any other former railway minister. Bullet train, diamond quadrilateral of high-speed rail network etc are not new in the horizon, these have been quite sometime in railway's discussion at least. Importantly, you missed to recognize the actual profit maker of Indian railway, when I look into 4 most profitable zone of railway, none of them comes under any one of the metro cities and four most profit making zones of Indian railway comes largely in the states of Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Madya Pradesh (MP) that have less than national average rail network.
Most of the proposals in railway budget are an extension of earlier plans. In principle, Sadananda Gowda is an extension of same group of people to create favoritism for their respective cities/states using railway ministry. If one carefully analyzes number of projects in this budget, somehow the railway minister had tried his best to woo Karnataka in various projects: new trains, new survey, newlines, tourism cluster, etc. and not ignored interest of Gujarat and UP largely that is of prime minister’s political interest. Earlier former railway ministers had been also doing the same: taking political interest of their constituency/state, and that of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and few extend of Manmohan Singh (a factory in Punjab). We expected Modi Govt. to be above this line and create an environment based on profitability and people whose sacrifice make the rail ministry run and not collapse over years. Over the decades, who are actually making one of the largest railway to run successfully are actually at the receiving end. We take minerals from tribal
and backward pockets of the country that not only make budget of the nation
richer with their minerals and ancillary metal industries but also
transportation of these minerals make Indian railway profitable. In return, we
neither create railway line in those regions for the benefit of local people
and tribal, nor establish railway factory/Railway University for local
development. Our leaders only think to fill their constituencies and states
forgetting sacrifice of those people, whether be it RaeBareli (constituency of
Sonia Gandhi), Chhapra (constituency of Lalu Yadav), West Bengal (home state of
Mamata Banerjee), etc. powerful political leaders have established railway factories
based on their political agenda rather than actual source of raw materials like
coal, iron, alumina, etc needed for such railway factories. Locations in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, etc. that supply coal, iron, steel and aluminum for railway infrastructure and manufacturing unit are never considered for railway coach factory. For example, Narla road (comes under profit making ECOR zone) in KBK districts is located at the junction of three public sector steel plants in Bhilai (Chhatisgarh), Rourkela (Odisha) and Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). It is also close to MCL coal blocks in Angul and Jharsuguda (Odisha). NALCO, BALCO, HAL and Vedanta Alumina are all located very close to this site. Such location was never considered. At the same time Chhapra (comes under loss making North Eastern zone) and Kolkata (comes of loss making Eastern zone) were the locations selected by railway for factories. Interestingly, railway argues about profitability making when demand to establish new rail lines come in these backward pockets, but the same railway invest more to north eastern frontier and metro railway for social development, both (metro railways and north eastern frontier) railways are among the worst performing railway zones in India. Unfortunately, MP, Chhatisgarh and Odisha have railway track less than national average per every 1000 sqkm. But tribal and backward pockets of these states are continuously ignored to suit political interest. When these people oppose for mining, then only we complain about naxalism? Of course, we were hopeless about UPA, at the same time is it what we expect from Modi Govt.?

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