Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who presented a full Congress Budget after seventeen years, kept it close to the textbook, thereby inviting the ire of his own alliance partners, as well as opposition. In an interaction immediately after presenting the budget, he defends various measures announced by him.
Do you think the budget has over burdened the public?
Railway travellers would like to pay for good service. This time the hike is meant for only those who travel in reserved coaches because they are the passengers who use the facilities like reservation and tatkal. This hike will not impact the general unreserved category projects.
Why did you choose to raise the service charge? Is it an apologetic approach to passenger fare hike?
There is no question of this being an apologetic hike in passenger fares.
The BJP has termed the budget as Rae Bareilly budget. How do you respond to it?
They are good at finding a description to anything. If Rae Bareilly is an anathema to them, I cannot do anything about it.
Your budget is silent on big-ticket reforms in railway. Your government has taken tough decisions on FDI front. What made to keep the budget mute on reforms.
Structural reforms require a lot of deliberations and cannot be done in a haste.
By when will the Rail Tariff Authority be set up?
The inter-ministerial consultations on the matter is taking place as of now.
Even the Trinamool Congress MPs came to well of the Parliament alleging you of neglecting West Bengal.
I do not know why did they claim that West Bengal was neglected. Dumdum-Naopara, East – West metro corridor are West Bengal projects. Somehow they could not accept that someone apart from TMC is presenting the budget. They raised a din after hearing that the state has been given two projects. If they had allowed me to speak, they would have known that the state has got several new trains and extensions of existing trains.
How is railway collaborating with the rural development ministry on MNREGA. Kindly explain?
I wrote a letter to the ministry of rural development and they have agreed to bringing some of the railway work under MNREGA. A lot of work on 64,000 km of railway network can be implemented using this scheme. We are working out the detailed plan with the ministry of rural affairs.