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Mixed reactions in State

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, Feb 26 � Political parties and non-political outfits in the State today came out strongly against the Railway Budget presented in Parliament and accused the Narendra Modi-led NDA government of ignoring the needs of Assam and the North East.

Reacting to the Budget speech by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, they said it lacked clarity regarding the government�s intentions and is an attempt to only open up the Railways to privatization, even at a time when no new concrete measures have been announced for boosting connectivity in a backward and remote region like the North East.

They also expressed apprehension that the hike in freight rates may push up commodity prices, resulting in hardship to the common man.

�It is an eyewash. The Budget document lacks clarity. There is nothing new as far as projects are concerned,� said Dipankar Sharma, general secretary of the Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA).

He added, �The Budget speech was full of things like Wi-Fi, solar machines, mobile chargers and such other stuff. No doubt, these things are necessary, but what about the basic requirements of lakhs of people of Assam and the North East, like expansion of connectivity to remote areas, double-tracking of rail line, new lines, introduction of new sub-urban services and so on? People of this region have for years been demanding these basic necessities, but the government has continued with the policies of its predecessor and turned a blind eye to Assam.�

Sharma, however, added that Prabhu�s appeal to MPs to contribute their MPLAD funds in improving facilities at Railway stations is a positive move and hoped that MPs from Assam will take a lead in this.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) termed the Rail Budget as �directionless and uninspiring� for the North East.

�The Budget is another farce of BJP on the people of North East, especially Assam. It has proposed investments to the tune of Rs 39,000 crore over the next five years for national projects smartly clubbing the North East and Kashmir connectivity projects, but refrained from spelling out investments proposed for North East and Kashmir separately, raising doubts on the amount they actually want to invest in North East and Kashmir, a State where they are expected to form the State government next month,� APCC president Anjan Dutta said.

AASU said that the discriminatory attitude of the Central government towards Assam remain unchanged despite the change in regime.

AASU activists burned copies of the Budget here in protest.

However, industry body FINER said, �The Railway Minister has dared to come out with a Budget which is consolidation centric, focused more on maximizing the yield on the existing infrastructure on the one hand and on the other, on future roadmap for strengthening Railways� infrastructure needs and improving operational efficiencies.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce said that the Budget has laid down the roadmap for attracting private investments which could be instrumental in boosting project completions and infrastructure expansion.

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Mixed reactions in State

GUWAHATI, Feb 26 � Political parties and non-political outfits in the State today came out strongly against the Railway Budget presented in Parliament and accused the Narendra Modi-led NDA government of ignoring the needs of Assam and the North East.

Reacting to the Budget speech by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, they said it lacked clarity regarding the government�s intentions and is an attempt to only open up the Railways to privatization, even at a time when no new concrete measures have been announced for boosting connectivity in a backward and remote region like the North East.

They also expressed apprehension that the hike in freight rates may push up commodity prices, resulting in hardship to the common man.

�It is an eyewash. The Budget document lacks clarity. There is nothing new as far as projects are concerned,� said Dipankar Sharma, general secretary of the Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA).

He added, �The Budget speech was full of things like Wi-Fi, solar machines, mobile chargers and such other stuff. No doubt, these things are necessary, but what about the basic requirements of lakhs of people of Assam and the North East, like expansion of connectivity to remote areas, double-tracking of rail line, new lines, introduction of new sub-urban services and so on? People of this region have for years been demanding these basic necessities, but the government has continued with the policies of its predecessor and turned a blind eye to Assam.�

Sharma, however, added that Prabhu�s appeal to MPs to contribute their MPLAD funds in improving facilities at Railway stations is a positive move and hoped that MPs from Assam will take a lead in this.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) termed the Rail Budget as �directionless and uninspiring� for the North East.

�The Budget is another farce of BJP on the people of North East, especially Assam. It has proposed investments to the tune of Rs 39,000 crore over the next five years for national projects smartly clubbing the North East and Kashmir connectivity projects, but refrained from spelling out investments proposed for North East and Kashmir separately, raising doubts on the amount they actually want to invest in North East and Kashmir, a State where they are expected to form the State government next month,� APCC president Anjan Dutta said.

AASU said that the discriminatory attitude of the Central government towards Assam remain unchanged despite the change in regime.

AASU activists burned copies of the Budget here in protest.

However, industry body FINER said, �The Railway Minister has dared to come out with a Budget which is consolidation centric, focused more on maximizing the yield on the existing infrastructure on the one hand and on the other, on future roadmap for strengthening Railways� infrastructure needs and improving operational efficiencies.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce said that the Budget has laid down the roadmap for attracting private investments which could be instrumental in boosting project completions and infrastructure expansion.