in January this year, I do not intend to pass on the additional burden to them now and the railways will absorb the impact of Rs 850 crore on this account," Bansal said in his Budget speech.
He told a post-Budget press conference that he was no apologetic about the hike in freight rates and passenger charges.
While Bansal said the average freight rate revision will be 5 per cent, Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal said it will be between 4.5 and 4.6 per cent. But the Budget documents show the increase to be an average of 5.8 per cent.
Mittal said the freight increase would neutralise the additional expenditure on account of fuel cost and is not going to result in additional earnings to the kitty.
Opposition parties attacked the Budget proposals as inflationary and a burden on the common man while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues hailed it as reformist and forward looking.
India Inc was divided on the Budget with a section apprehending that the hike in freight charges will fuel inflation, while others said some proposals could set the growth multiplier in motion.