GUWAHATI, July 8 � The first Rail Budget of the new BJP-led NDA government drew sharp reactions from the political parties and passenger associations of Assam, who accused the Centre of neglecting the interest of the State and of failure to offer any substantial new project for the North Eastern region.
The Assam Rail Passengers Association (ARPA) said that the first Railway Budget of the Narendra Modi-led government has failed to address the long-standing demands of the people of the State and the entire North Eastern region.
�The basic need in Assam and the North East is railway infrastructure development, including double-tracking and electrification. The Budget speech by Railway Minster Sadananda Gowda has nothing concrete to offer regarding new projects in the region and for expansion of the railway network here,� ARPA general secretary Dipankar Sarma told The Assam Tribune.
He said while some new premium, express and local trains have been advanced, there have been no steps to increase the suburban services, which have the potential to revolutionise the transport system in Assam and also increase revenue for the Indian Railways in North East.
�It is commendable that there has been a 54 per cent increase in allocations as compared to last year for the North East, but without basic infrastructure development such steps would not result in desired outcomes,� Sarma said.
However, industry body FINER had a different opinion and said that Budget �has not only rightly diagnosed the ailments of the Indian Railways, but also prescribed a clear roadmap and corrective actions ahead.�
FINER chairman RS Joshi said, �We at FINER are quite happy that the Railway Minister has come out with a strong action plan to complete pending projects including projects of national status in the North Eastern region in a time-bound manner by a quantum jump in budgetary outlay for these projects.�
The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) said the Railway Budget for 2014-15 has nothing new to offer and the NDA government has only continued with projects already announced by the previous UPA regime.
�Besides, how will the government fund all the expensive schemes like bullet trains and others when it has already admitted that the Indian Railways is in dire straits and has no other resort but to hike fares and freights? Why are there no new schemes for Assam?� State Congress spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora said.
Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) working president Atul Bora accused the Centre of discriminating against the North East in the Railway Budget.
He said that the Budget fails to mention anything on important issues like double-tracking and expansion of railway network in the North East and recruitment of locals for jobs in the Indian Railways.
The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) said the Railway Budget was not up to the expectations of the people of Assam and though allocation for projects in the North East has been hiked by 54 per cent, no substantial action plan has been mooted for infrastructure development and double-tracking in the region.
The Krishak Mukti Samgram Samiti (KMSS) said the Rail Budget has prepared a roadmap for the takeover of the Indian Railways by international capital.
It said that the Modi government�s anti-national mindset has been revealed by its efforts to privatise the railway services and hand over a national asset to global capitalist forces and termed such actions as �anti-people.�