The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
On Railway Budget
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) broadly welcomes the railway budget for 2005-2006 primarily because the Railway Minister has not proposed any hike on fares and freight charges on many items. But the rationalization of freight rates will increase the prices of foodgrains, pulses and certain chemical fertilizers which will add to the burden of the common people.
The performance of the railway for the year 2004-2005 shows an improvement. The freight traffic has grown by 7.67 per cent over last year and has grown faster than the GDP, improving over its market share. The utilization of the resources of the Special Railway Safety Fund is also on course with financial utilization upto Rs. 10,149 crore with 12,138 kms of track renewals to be achieved by the end of the financial year out of a total target of 16,538 kms. There has also been an increase in the allocation for acquisition of rolling stock, which will add to the capacity of the railway system.
The difficulty of the railway finances is arising out of a lack of adequate budgetary support which has come down from Rs. 4,544 crore last year to Rs. 3,821 crore for the forthcoming year. This has resulted in the railway budget failing to address the concerns and aspirations of a large number of regions and people of the country. The other disturbing feature of the budget is the lack of innovative measures in the present budget to address the holistic requirements of the railway system.