Five Years Vision Document Presented in the Railway Budget 2015-16
The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) welcomes the Railway Budget 2015-16 as it is practical and people friendly. At the same time the Budget has not made any unrealistic promises in terms of announcing new projects or new trains while focusing on safety, efficiency, and modernization. In some cases like Urea, LPG, Kerosene, Iron and Steel, Cement and Coal, freight rate have been revised upwards without much impact on the industry. The Budget is constructive as it has focused on clearing up 300 odd pending projects and increase freight capacity to 1.5 billion tonnes and passenger capacity from 21 million to 31 million. The Budget has also mentioned about creating a Railway Infrastructure Fund for mobilization of resources. The Hon’ble Railway Minister has conducted a huge exercise in talking to various stakeholders and accordingly addressed passenger and industry issues comprehensively. He has focused on expanding of freight handling issues and for the first time has set up a transport logistics corporation along with other freight related issues.
However, it remains to be seen whether the twenty point programme undertaken by the Railway Minister by way of 4 goals, 5 drivers, and 11 thrust areas, could be achieved within the time frame and an operating ratio of 88.5% could be reached within 2015-16. An increase in the plan expenditure by almost 52% and a spending of 8.5 lakh crore for the next five years would augur well for the railways. What is especially encouraging is expanding the capacity of 77 existing projects at an outlay of Rs 96, 182 crore and working out a medium term perspective plan that include a new white paper. It would help to build partnership with PSUs and funding agencies to leverage funding opportunities including pension funds. The Budget would set high standards of transparency and workability.