New Delhi: Though the speed at which he read out his speech while presenting the Rail Budget in Lok Sabha on Thursday matched that of Bhopal Rajdhani, railway minister Suresh Prabhu did not forget to lend it a poetic touch as he quoted from poems of noted Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
During an over hour-long speech of Mr Prabhu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen repeatedly thumping the desk along with other members of the treasury benches in appreciation of the proposals of the budget.
The railway minister walked into the House at around 11.50 am and started his speech at 12.05 pm with some of his personal experiences as the railway minister. Spelling out his strategy, the minister said it would rest on three pillars of “Nav Arjan, Nav Manak and Nav Sanrachna (new revenue, new norm and new structure)”.
Before concluding his speech, Mr Prabhu quoted Gautam Buddha saying that whenever one contemplates a journey, there are two mistakes one can make: not starting and not going all the way.
“We have already started the journey and I intend to go all the way and we will not rest till we take Bharatiya Rail to a destination called samridhi or success,” the minister said.
Railway budget: Rail board to be restructured
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu also said he would soon ask Parliament to set up a Rail Development and Tariff Authority, which among other things will propose passenger fares and freight rates.
Partially accepting the Bibek Debroy Committee’s report, Mr Prabhu proposed the long-awaited restructuring of the Railway Board, with its chairman suitably empowered to function on corporate lines and the setting up of cross-functional directorates.
Showing a cash surplus of Rs 8,720 crore in the current fiscal, Mr Prabhu pegged the operating ratio (expenditure against earnings) at 92 per cent. He proposed a plan outlay of Rs 1.21 lakh crore against the revised budget estimate of Rs 1 lakh crore last year. He also set a target to mop up revenue of Rs 1,84,820 crore (2016-17).
Laced with many Hindi terms, which appeared to show the stamp of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Prabhu gave the slogan of Chalo milkar kuch naya karen (Let’s do something new together), which essentially captured the new theme of partnering with state governments, private players and PSU firms for taking up new projects.
“Three pillars of the strategy for us is Nav Arjan (new revenues), Nav Maanak (new norms) and Nav Sanrachna (new structures),” said Mr Prabhu in his 75-minute speech that was delivered at his characteristic “bullet” speed.
Seeking an image makeover to endear the Narendra Modi government to the poor, Mr Prabhu proposed a new train, Antyodaya Express, meant for unreserved passengers, to run at superfast speed.
Also, he unveiled DeenDayalu unreserved coaches with potable water and higher number of mobile charging points. Besides, there will be new trains Humsafar (totally 3rd AC), with optional meal facilities, Uday, which will be overnight double-decker service, and Utkrisht, which too will be double-decker AC Yatri Express for the busiest routes.