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BJP bats for PPP model to improve railways, MoS credits PM for giving a new vision

BJP bats for PPP model to improve railways, MoS credits PM for giving a new vision

New Delhi, Jul 11 (UNI) Interesting facets concerning the functioning of Railways came to the fore in Lok Sabha during debate on Demands for grants under the Ministry of Railways on Thursday where BJP lawmakers suggested that PPP model is the only solution and would lead the country to progress but the opposition Congress and others deplored such moves.

Initiating the debate, Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury counseled the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to "cut your coat according to your cloth" and said some of the railway projects appeared unrealistic.

"It is like seeking a tent to sleep when there is not even a mat, he said while initiating the debate," he said taking a dig at budget proposals that the government would like to pump in Rs 50 lakh crore investment for railways in the coming years.

The Congress leader noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself stated that railways will not be privatised bur the Budget 2019-20 makes clear case for pushing the public private partnership norms and for corporatisation and disinvestment.

Sounding critical of hyped created during Prime Minister's foreign visit, he said "During Modi-ji’s visit to France in April 2015, a protocol was signed to seek cooperation for semi-high-speed rail and station renovation. There has been no further news on this. Again, during Modiji’s trip to China in May 2015, an MoU was signed for specific cooperative initiatives within the financial year 2015-16. There was no action."

BJP MP Gopal Shetty said he favoured public private partnership (PPP) model to boost the country's progress and development of railway infrastructures.

"The PPP model is the only solution and would lead the country to progress. It can only provide facilities to the people," Mr Shetty said.

A lot of work was being undertaken for the development of railways, Sudhir Gupta (BJP) said. He maintained that work was progressing at a fast pace in the Northeast only after the BJP-led NDA came to power.

His views were endorsed by BJP MP Pratima Bhowmick from Tripura.

The debate on Demands for Grants for Railways went up to late night.

Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi said under the NDA government, the Railways has spent double the amount in capital expenditure compared to the UPA regime.

"Railways connects the entire country the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi has connected India to the world through yoga," he said.

He said Prime Minister Modi deserves all credit to give Indian Railways a new direction and mission.

He thanked Prime Minister for merging Railway budget with the Union Budget saying that was certainly a visionary step.

NCP MP Supriya Sule sought an assurance from the government that it would not privatise the railways.

The NCP lawmaker said some of the measures and policy matters as announced by the government on railway front appeared contradictory and impractical. She expressed concern that some of the proposals named but without adequate funds give the impression that these may not come true ever.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the bullet train concept a "hoax".

"It is a hoax and a false promise. It is bogus on Indian soil," he said. He said there is a huge vacancy for gangmen which has reached two lakh and also a shortage of rail drivers.

Countering the opposition's allegations, BJP MP Sunil Kumar Singh Thursday said the performance of railways is much better now that it was under the Congress rule and it was achieving new milestones.

Railway accidents have drastically reduced by 73 per cent in the five-year period of Modi government, he said.

He said the capital expenditure more than doubled to Rs 4.97 lakh crore during 2014-19 compared to 2.3 lakh crore in 2009-14.

Participating in the debate, DMK member Kanimozhi lamented that Railways still employ manual scavengers, and said "it is a shame for the nation."

She also protested that all sign boards on Railways stations are in Hindi.

Fazlur Rahman (BSP) said bullet train is being planned only for few people.

Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena spoke about doubling of tracks under the Konkan Railway.

Ritesh Pandey of BSP was critical of the Budget and said - "Khoda lahar nikali chuhiya (much ado about nothing)".

He asked the government whether the expenditure of taxpayers' money will be appropriately spent.

Nishikant Dubey of BJP also spoke.


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