Delhiites welcome rail budget, Mumbaikars unsatisfied

Friday, February 25, 2011

NEW DELHI - The railway budget 2011-12 got mixed reactions from the two major metros, New Delhi and Mumbai, while Kolkata welcomed it. Delhiites more or less hailed the budget and said more facilities need to be provided, while Mumbaikars said they had expected more.

“It is a positive and a visionary budget focused on the common and poor people of India. I think the minister needs to be appreciated and thanked for it. The lowering of age by two years for senior citizens is a welcome step,” said Madhav Sekhri, a businessman from Delhi who turned 59 last month.

Presenting her third budget, the ministers’ announcement of providing 16,000 ex-servicemen jobs in railways came as a pleasant surprise especially for those attached to the armed forces.

“It is a very good initiative by the minister to induct ex-servicemen in the railways. It is a recognition of their service to the nation as they guard the country by putting their lives at stake,” Surabhi Jaitley, whose father and brother are serving in the army.

According to Ram Sharan, a central government employee who lost the use of his legs due to polio, welcomed the concessions announced. “With the concessions on Rajdhani and Shatabdi express, I can now afford to travel in comfort and luxury without burning a hole in my pocket,” Sharan said.

However, some argued that the minister needs to maintain basic amenities and increase the frequency of trains on some particular routes, and keep a strong vigil on the security.

“The minister instead of introducing new trains should concentrate more on the upgradation of basic amenities like increasing frequency of some of the existing popular trains, cleanliness on platforms, toilets, clean drinking water and much better security measures,” said Satya Rana who works in south Delhi and commutes daily by train from Palwal, Haryana.

In Mumbai, daily commuters were not too happy despite the increase in number of suburban trains and in the length of coaches announced. Public relations professional Anukul Bhavsar, who travels a distance of around 40 km via local train one way, said there is a requirement of more fast trains on the central line.

“Fast trains on the central line operate only during peak hours. Their frequency should be increased,” Bhavsar said.

Administration professional Naina Sharma said the budget has no benefits for the commoner. “Concessions for senior citizens, benefits for the handicapped are fine. But what about adding more trains to reduce the passenger rush in each train,” she questioned.

“People are crammed in trains like animals during peak hours. Our railway minister has to visit Mumbai and take time to understand how the city works. It is then only that she will be able to understand the situation and work positively towards making it better,” Sharma added.

In Kolkata, most people welcomed the budget that has many sops for the poll-bound state. “Singur and Darjeeling are politically disturbed places. Mamata Banerjee proposes to set up factories there. If the factories come up in those areas, then it will be really good,” said Bipul Malakar, professor of economics at Jadavpur University.

“I hail Banerjees proposal to build a multi-disciplinary training centre in Kurseong as it is an industrially backward place. The people in Kurseong and Darjeeling are very frustrated as there is no source of employment except tourism.”

“Railway investment in those areas will create forward and backward linkages through which employment will be generated,” he added.

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