Chandigarh, February 26, 2013: The Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday described the Union Railway Budget as a letdown and a huge disappointment for the poor and middle classes in general and for the people of Punjab in particular.
Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s office informed that Badal said “The government has burdened the common man with additional fare hikes through the back door, announced no new up scaling of facilities for the poor and the middle class passengers. It has also gone back on its commitment to set up an additional integral coach factory in the state. The state’s long pending demands on freight equalisation and extension of Mumbai and Kolkatta freight corridors to Amritsar have been rejected even while the UPA has been so liberal to the Congress ruled states in our neighbourhood.”
Reacting to the budget, the Chief Minister said that this was probably the first time in history that the government went back on its promise not to announce any hike in railways fare instead, there has been an across the board raise, affecting every class, especially the poor and the middle class. It chose the secret back door route to impose this burden using fuel surcharge as an excuse. The government seems to have forgotten that the railway was one of the main modes of transport for the common people and any hike there will hurt their domestic. “Coming on top of unreasonable hikes in the prices of domestic consumption goods such as LPG, kerosene etc. and the raise announced in the diesel and petrol prices, the railway budget completes the UPA government’s onslaught on the pockets of the poor and the middle classes.
The Chief Minister said that the budget was cruelly discriminatory to Punjab. They have not added a single yard to the railway footprint in Punjab, despite railway Minister’s assurances to the contrary just days ahead of the budget. The UPA government has also cold shouldered the state’s most legitimate demand for extension of freight corridors from Mumbai and Kolkatta up to Amritsar. This had become all the more important in view of the increased trade activity through the international border at Attari-Wagah.
The UPA government, said Badal, had also once again disappointed the Punjabi business and trade community by turning down our demand for freight equalisation.