Cleanse railway of touts
Apropos of the editorial “Diverging tracks” (February 27), putting brakes on the practice of announcing politically-motivated new projects, Suresh Prabhu has presented a praiseworthy and path-breaking rail budget. He has focused mainly on the much-needed but long-ignored modernisation of the railways, including the signaling system, and on the improvement of passenger facilities, including security, catering, sanitation, etc. Special measures have been proposed to take care of women and senior citizens. Much to the relief of the common man, there is no hike in passenger fare. However, raising the period for advance booking from two months to four months serves no purpose. Due to involvement of touts, all the berths are filled within minutes on the opening day and except in a few cases, it is impossible even for the people in the long queues on the reservation counters to get a confirmed ticket. In this situation, getting confirmed reservation for a journey coming up later is out of question. The need is to eliminate the role of touts in railway reservation with the help of technology.
As far as ideas go, Budget FY16 seems to be one of the most impressive ones so far. Reducing effective tax rates, preserving archaeological heritage, etc—a host of new ideas were presented. But the touch is very superficial. Will all the stated aims materialise without a road map?
Prahlad Bhasin, Mumbai
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