26 April, New Delhi
The government will create a Rs 1 lakh crore safety fund to strengthen safety measures on the rail network to prevent accidents.
Replying to a debate on Demands for Grants for Railways for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha Tuesday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said his Ministry has sent a proposal to the Finance Ministry for approval.
The Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh will be a non-lapsable fund which will be utilised for safety measures. Prabhu also announced to revisit financial norms related to the grant of projects to adopt best practices to make them viable.
The Minister said, the government is working on a long term plan for improving the financial condition of Railways. He said, government is working towards restructuring and rejuvenation of Railways.
He also informed that apart from generating revenue from internal resources, the Railways is also eyeing for generating additional revenue from the market and other avenues.
Prabhu also brushed aside the criticism of the proposal to introduce expensive bullet trains, saying the government has managed to secure a soft loan of Rs 1 lakh crore from Japan at an interest as low as 0.1 per cent.
Prabhu said, Bullet Train project will be beneficial for the country as the technology which is being envisaged for the project will be helpful for all rail network.
Prabhu said, the Railways have undertaken a task of redevelopment of 400 railway stations. He also said, the allocation for rail networks in States have been increased since the NDA government took over.Later the House passed the Demands for Grants for Railways.
Earlier participating in the debate, Mallikarjun Kharge of Congress accused the Railway Ministry of cutting down funds on development projects. He said several projects launched during the previous regime are not being given proper attention.
He also raised questions on cleanliness in trains. . Kharge urged Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to pay attention to completion of projects in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
He demanded weight age for ordinary tracks and not high speed trains. Yogi Adityanath, BJP, commended the Railway Minister for his pragmatism in developing the Railways.
He underlined that for the first time the Railway Ministry has not increased fares and freight charges.
He pointed out that the Railways is facing challenges in passenger safety, punctuality and cleanliness which, he said is a legacy from the past.