Friday, July 3, 2009

Mamata Express halts at it first budget station

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Mamata Banerjee knows just one way to do things and that's the Mamata way. There was no briefcase to carry the Railway Budget in her hand it was the traditional jhola which resembled a person straight out of an unreserved compartment. Jokes apart in the first major political show of the UPA Government, Mamata presented a budget which won't disappoint many. Her critics had expected a shabby budget from the high decibel Mamata but she surely surprised many.

As expected Mamata did not increase the passenger fare across all classes and not even in the freight rates. Her budget speech had shades of her predecessor's ideas minus his humour. From invoking Indira Gandhi to quoting Rabindra Nath Tagore Mamata did it all. The 'by the people, for the people' budget had its goodies for the poor including the new scheme called 'Izzat' for low-income monthly travelers and cold storages for farmers in major stations.

Some of the highlights of her budget are:

  • The proposal to introduce ambulance facilities and have one doctor to be posted on long distance trains was long needed. Many people travel with patients on trains for days together in trains and this was one of the must haves in a country like India.
  • Infotainment facilities on Rajdhani Express will surely go a long way in making the journey a pleaure. These facilities can also generate a lot of revenue for the Railways.
  • 12 new 'Turant' AC sleeper trains between major metros. Wonder what took the ministry so long to come up with such an idea as the demand was always there.
  • Colleges on railway land through public-private partnership. Considering Railways hold huge chunks of land around the country some really good institutes could come up.
  • To proposal to increase number of women commandos in key routes is certainly welcome as it can reduce the harassment women go through at the hands of male security.
  • SMS update on waitlisted tickets. This is certainly the need of the hour. Keeping in mind the cellular penetration in India this can ease the life of a waitlisted passengers.
  • Construction of more toilets for women. It is not always about health hygiene, we need to protect the dignity of out women too.
  • Introduction of double-decker AC coaches for inter-city travel can bring in some relief to the daily passengers in the metros. This will also make people use public transport more.
Critics will always find loopholes in such a budget and practically in a country like India it is not easy to make everybody happy. In the end this surely has to be termed as a good budget since it did not burn a hole in the passenger's pocket and at the same time proposed many mordernisation schemes. With the budget Mamata surely has touched down the platform in time.


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