Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

On the Anti-People Railway Budget

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly denounces the additional burdens imposed on a vast majority of the people through hikes in the railway passenger fares (to the tune of Rs. 910 crores) and freight (to the tune of Rs. 450 crores).

This burden of Rs. 1,360 crores is in addition to the collection of safety surcharge from passengers to the tune of Rs. 860 crores. The total burden on the people, therefore, will be to the tune of Rs. 2,220 crores. The increase in the freight charges will have a cascading effect on the prices of all commodities which will impose further burdens on the people. The anti-people anti-poor attitude of this Vajpayee government was clearly revealed by the fact that the hikes are for second class travel and for season ticket holders while rich have been spared. The AC first class fares have actually been reduced.

While such burdens on the people have been imposed, the rail budget proposes, under pressure from the finance ministry’s pre-occupation to reduce its fiscal deficit, to pay the central government its full dividend of Rs. 2,679 crores.

It is a matter of serious concern that the internal resources for plan expenditure is actually Rs. 620 crores less than what was budgeted for last year. Notwithstanding recourse to rhetoric with emphasis on external funding, the much needed infrastructural development for the railways, particularly for safety, will actually receive less from its internal funds in the coming year.

This year’s railway budget carries forward the disastrous policy of privatisation and commercialisation of the Indian railways. The decision to hand over freight terminals to private management is the latest in this direction of abandoning the character of the Indian railways as a public utility service.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon the people to unitedly resist such fresh onslaughts on their livelihood.