CPI(M) today took strong objection to the government’s decision to merge the railway and general budgets, alleging it is a step towards privatisation of Indian Railways and expressed fears that the move will cause a “steep” rise in fares which will burden the passengers.
“The abolition of a separate railway budget is not what it is purported to be. It is a measure towards commercialisation and privatisation of the Indian Railways,” CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.
“…for the people what this portends is a steep rise in railway fares and a growing divide towards elite services and poor facilities for the ordinary passengers,” it added.
The Politburo said presenting the separate budget would give Parliament an opportunity to scrutinise and approve railway’s finances and expenditure and rued the practice will now be curtailed with its “abolition”.
Ending the nearly century-long practice, Union Cabinet yesterday decided to scrap a separate budget for railways and merge it with general budget.
The decision was taken in line with report of NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy-headed committee which had observed that presenting a separate railway budget is only a ritual as its size has become very small compared to the general budget.
The panel had suggested that rail budget should be a part of the government’s overall fiscal discipline and the developmental approach of the budget.