VIJAYAWADA: The Railway Budget-2016 presented by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday evoked mixed response in Vijayawada city.
The people in general were disappointed that there were no major allocations to Andhra Pradesh and no new trains for the state. However, the people were also relieved that the train fares have not been hiked and that the focus was on the safety and security of the trains and commuters. The proposed improvements to traffic amenities were also generally welcomed.
The business community was hopeful that the dedicated freight corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada and the emphasis on port connectivity would augur well for commerce and trade in the state.
“The budget is not up to the expectations of the people of the state. The much anticipated separate railway zone for the state did not materialise. However, focus on safety and security of the passengers and the emphasis on providing amenities are laudable. Setting up of 17,000 bio-toilets, allocation of 33 percent berth reservation to women, 50 percent lower berth reservation to senior citizens with an increased quota for them, ease of booking tickets and cancellation are most welcome,” Muthavarapu Muralikrishna, president-elect of the Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation (APCCIF) said.
P Bhaskar, executive director of APCCIF, said though it was disappointing that the state didn’t get much, the dedicated freight corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada will help in the industrial and commercial development of North and Central Andhra regions. “Further, emphasis on port connectivity will also help the state, which is focusing on the port-based development,” he opined.
BS Koteswara Rao, a businessman from the city, opined that public-private partnerships, involvement of private parties in development of stations and other railway projects are most welcome. “The budget looks futuristic and at the same time is welfare-oriented. Most importantly, no additional burden was put on the common man and instead, efforts were made to provide more services to them.” he said.
South Central Railway Employees’ Sangh (SCRES), Vijayawada Division, secretary BV Chalapathi Rao felt the Prabhu’s Railway Budget had nothing for Andhra Pradesh except a mere assurance to develop Tirupati Railway Station. “There are several pending projects. No mention was made of them. Some nominal funding was proposed for ongoing survey. Besides there, there is nothing for the state,” he said.
Taxpayers Association president V Sambi Reddy and secretary MV Anjaneyulu felt injustice was done to the state. They said there are several pending railway projects in North Andhra and Rayalaseema. There was no clarity in the budget about their status. “Doubling works needs to be taken up in several places, but there was no clarity about allocations to them,” Anjaneyulu said.
“Vijayawada is a fast growing city. There is need for a satellite station, but no proposal was made in the budget, which is disappointing,” Sambi Reddy said.
K Ramakrishna and P Madhu, state secretaries of CPI and CPM respectively, described the railway budget as anti-people and felt it was paving way for privatisation. “Though the budget claims to be welfare oriented, no mention is made of the welfare of the casual and contract workers, who make up for 55 percent of the workforce,” Madhu said.