CHENNAI: Political parties were unanimous in venting out their disappointment over the railway budget since fund allocation for the 24 ongoing projects in the State was not sufficient to complete them.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi pointed out that last year itself, the Centre had hiked the railway fare to mop up Rs 8,000 crore and added “As diesel price has come down considerably, it was expected that passenger fare and freight charges will be reduced, but it was not done. Many railway projects have been abandoned, while new projects have not been announced”.
PMK founder S Ramadoss also said the fares had not come down despite fall in diesel prices and said. DMDK leader Vijayakant, an ally of the BJP, said “The announcement that funds will be mobilised from private investments has raised apprehensions that it is a precursor to privatisation of railways.”
MDMK general secretary Vaiko said “When the prices of crude oil have fallen by 60 per cent at the international level, the railway minister has not reduced the fare. The assertion that railways will not be privatised contradicts with the announcement that new projects will be implemented with private participation.”
Flaying the increase in freight charges, TNCC president EVKS Elangovan said “The increase in freight charges will lead to price rise and inflation. The minister is relying on private sector and foreign direct investment for financial resources, but such attempts have not succeeded in the past”. Tamil Maanila Congress president GK Vasan said the budget had failed to give priority to the needs of passengers and the nation’s growth, he added.
Expressing a similar opinion, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan said “The budget is a disappointing one for Tamil Nadu. The growth of railways in Tamil Nadu is relatively slow. So, new projects and trains should be announced for the State”.