Focus on existing railway system
With reference to Sri TS Ramakrishnan’s write-up “Heavy duty network to tap freight, passenger traffic” (FE, January 6), I have the following comments to offer.
While dedicated freight corridors and high-speed railway lines are certainly necessary for the country, the question arises whether, at the present level of our economy, we can afford such huge investments—particularly when it would seriously undermine the financial stability of Indian Railways. The Eastern and Western freight corridors are being built with borrowed money from Japan and World Bank. The DFC has to service and pay back the loans, obviously with the freight earnings from the system. The freight traffic on the DFC will be mainly diverted traffic from main Indian Railway system which means to that extent Indian Railways will be losing freight earnings. The same thing will happen when passengers migrate to the High Speed Railway systems. These corridors will not be able to financially sustain themselves with only the incremental traffic. The traffic losses to the Indian Railway system by such diversion cannot be fully made good, particularly in the case of freight traffic which means the overall earnings of the Indian Railways will go down seriously.
In the present state of our economy it is more prudent to invest the available resources on the existing Railway system itself—to upgrade technology, increase line capacity and improve safety standards, all on war-footing. Investments on high-speed and dedicated freight corridors should not be at the cost of Indian Railways.
Former MD, Delhi Metro
Cong must clear way for GST
Apropos of the report “No headway on GST, says Cong after Naidu’s meeting with Sonia” (FE, January 8), the NDA government claims to have accommodated all the three amendments insisted upon by the Congress in the GST Bill. Congress leader Kapil Sibal demanded the government to give in writing that Congress demands have been accepted, saying “RSS and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have red-flagged the reform measure.” It is a ridiculous argument. GST Bill will be cleared only after thorough scrutiny and debate in the Parliament where RSS and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have no role to play. Not only the economic and business experts at home but even the international rating agencies are seeing the GST legislation as a revolutionary reform which would accelerate country’s growth and create jobs. Congress needs to be a corroborator, rather than spoiler, in country’s growth story by setting aside partisan politics and getting the crucial GST Bill, which basically is its own product, cleared.
Promise from Pakistan
Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s assurance of prompt action against those responsible for the Pathankot attack, if they are linked to Pakistan, demonstrates that the recent visit of prime minister Modi has indeed strengthened the bond between the two nations. The two nations—India and Pakistan—may have occasionally worked to keep relations warm, but the cross-border incursions have frequently affected any meaningful dialogue. Since decades, terrorists from Pakistan have attacked and killing our soldiers, against which we have retaliated valorously. “Once bitten, twice shy” has become the de facto guiding principle for us now. It can’t be figured out easily whether Pakistan can be trusted or not. But, it can be reasonably believed that the civilian government of Pakistan had no information of this blitz. Unlike the past, when the Pakistani government had always showed reluctance in dealing with its cross-border attacks, their quick response reflects that they don’t wish to weaken the bond. We had waited for this promise only, the assurance may result positively if Pakistan takes initiatives to end border-attacks. But we have still lost few of our heroes in this incident, so this can’t be neglected. Lessons must be learnt for preventing any further attacks.
Shivanshu Srivastava, Lucknow