CPI(M) today described the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's maiden railway budget as "a cosmetic exercise" and said it was designed to impose greater burdens on the common people who used railways the most. "It is a classic exercise in a beauty parlour treatment.
It was a cosmetic exercise and the emphasis has been in high-sounding bullet trains and commercial freight corridors with no budgetary calculations to back up," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told a press conference here.
He said the government's decision to give much emphasis to foreign investment and take the Public–Private Partnership (PPP) route in order to achieve the modernisation was "very dangerous" as it would jeopardise the Indian Railway's "social role" and its role in national integration.
"Railways has an important element of social responsibility and it is not to be treated merely as a commercial activity. Today that concept is being given the go by, because FDI and public-private partnership is the main emphasis of the budget," Yechury said.
He said the experience of FDI and PPP in other infrastructure sectors like airports and seaports has shown how the costs to the consumer have grown exponentially. "This is true of a private airport, this is true of ports that you have entered into agreement with foreign ports like Dubai and Singapore and this is what is going to happen in the railways. This is one factor that is going to increase the burden on the common man," he said.
In a statement, CPI(M) Politburo said apart from the pre-budget hikes, which bring in a revenue of Rs8,000 crores, the budget has linked the future prices for travel with the fuel adjustment factor.