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Freight customers get a helping hand

Hanumangarh viii) Bhojipura-Pilibhit-Tanakpur ix) Lucknow-Bareilly via Sitapur-Lakhimpur-Pilibhit x) Krishnanagar-Nabadwipghat xi) Katwa-Barddhaman

Jul 07, 2004, 12.48 AM IST
Hanumangarh viii) Bhojipura-Pilibhit-Tanakpur ix) Lucknow-Bareilly via Sitapur-Lakhimpur-Pilibhit x) Krishnanagar-Nabadwipghat xi) Katwa-Barddhaman xii) Pratapnagar-Chotaudepur xiii) Sadulpur-Ratangarh-Bikaner & Ratangarh-Degana V New surveys for doubling of the following lines are being taken up: i) Salem-Bangalore ii) Trivandrum-Kanniyakumari iii) Chengalpattu-Tuticorin iv) Composite survey for Ghaziabad-Mugalsarai 3rd line v) Santipur-Kalinarayanpur vi) Rajgoda-Durga Chak vii) Doubling and electrification of Vijaywada-Gudivada-Bhimavaram-Narasapur and Gudivada-Machlipatnam VI Surveys for doubling of the following lines are being updated: i) Kiul-Nawadah-Gaya ii) Virar-Ahmedabad 3rd line iii) Pune-Miraj-Kolhapur iv) Meerut-Saharanpur v) Kharagpur-Midnapore via Girimaidan vi) Bandel-Katwa vii) Krishnanagar-Lalgola viii) Ramanagram-Mysore Electrification During the year 2003-04, 504 route kilometres have been electrified, which include Phagwara-Amritsar, Lakkadkot-Dhekwad, Ballapalle-Nandalur, Balasore-Ranital and Jahanabad-Patna. With this, the electrification of Patna-Gaya, Udhna-Jalgaon, Chengalpattu-Villupuram and Ludhiana-Amritsar rail lines has been completed and train services on electric traction have been introduced on these sections during the last year. For 2004-05, electrification of 375 route kilometres has been targeted. u Continued On Next Page u Continued From Previous Page The electrification will cover the following sections falling in the states of Kerala (160 Route kilometres), Orissa (153 RKM), Uttaranchal (34 RKM) and Uttar Pradesh (28 RKM): Chenganasheri-Kayankulam Shertalai-Kayankulam Kayankulam-Paravur Kapilas Road-Cuttack Ranital-Bhadrak & Bhadrak Yard Kenduapada-Kapilas Road Khurda Road-Puri Roorkee-Najibabad. Suburban transport projects Phase I of Mumbai urban transport project (MUTP) and the extension of Kolkata metro railway from Tolleyganj to Garia are progressing satisfactorily. The extension of Kolkata circular Railway from Princepghat to Majerhat as well as Dum Dum to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport is expected to be completed during the year. The entire section of MRTS (Phase II) from Tirumalai to Velachery shall be made operational fully by April 2005. The conversion of MG lines of the suburban system between Chennai (Egmore) and Tambaram to broad gauge are expected to be completed by March 2005. Throughput enhancement works In order to carry the targeted freight traffic and meet the demands of the core sectors of the economy during the remaining period of Tenth Plan, ministry of railways have decided to complete 62 identified throughput enhancement works. The accelerated completion of these works would result in augmentation of the sectional capacity, de-bottlenecking of saturated sections and terminals, improve operational flexibility, better utilisation of rolling stock and ensure safety of operations. The works urgently required for this purpose have been identified. It has been decided that all such sanctioned works will be completed by the end of 10th plan for which appropriate allocation of funds will be made in the remaining three years of the current plan, including current year. Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd The Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) was set up in January 2003 to undertake the bankable projects of the Golden Quadrilateral & Port Connectivity segments under the National Rail Vikas Yojana. Works for 56 projects under the Yojana (both sanctioned as well as unsanctioned) have been handed over to RVNL. In addition to project execution, RVNL will also undertake resource mobilization from the domestic market or through public private partnerships, BOT schemes, etc. Development of alternative routes The Golden Quadrilateral and diagonals of the railway system are heavily congested routes and strengthening of these routes have been taken up as part of National Rail Vikas Yojana. Surveys and construction of gauge conversion and new lines have been undertaken with a view to provide alternate routes to decongest the heavily utilized ones. These include gauge conversion of Kanpur-Kasganj-Mathura, Agra-Bandikui, Ajmer-Chittaurgarh, Neemuch-Ratlam, Bijapur-Gadag, Dharmavaram-Pakala, Chhindwara-Nagpur, Mudkhed-Adilabad, Nizamabad-Secunderabad and Jabalpur-Gondia and new lines Ramaganjmandi-Bhopal, Dallirajhara-Jagdalpur, Solapur-Tuljapur-Osmanabad, Gaya-Chhatra-Tori and Bhind-Etawah. New production unit for wheel manufacture Presently rail wheels are being produced by Rail Wheel Factory, Bangalore and Durgapur Steel Plant, Durgapur. However, there exists a shortage of wheel manufacturing capacity in the country which is met through imports. It is estimated that the capacity shortfall would be around 60-70 thousand wheels by the year 2009-10. To reduce our dependence on imports, through which supplies are not only uncertain but costlier, besides involving outgo of foreign exchange, it is proposed to set up a new wheel manufacturing plant at Chhapra, for which a detailed project report will be prepared. Major raw material is scrap steel which is abundantly available with Indian Railways. With this we will move a step closer to self-sufficiency. Production units I am glad to inform the hon''ble members that the performance of all the railway production units was satisfactory during the last year. Apart from meeting the requirements of Railways, we have also exported diesel locomotives and spare parts worth Rs 44.75 crore to Tanzania, Malaysia, West Africa and Bangladesh. Scrap disposal Indian Railways sell approximately 10 lakh tonnes of metallic scrap every year. hon''ble members have, from time to time, expressed concern about malpractices in such scrap sales. I have now decided to explore the possibility of in-house utilisation of this scrap by recycling it, instead of selling it to outside parties, subject to a detailed examination of the logistics, cost benefit analysis etc. Vigilance In keeping with the determination of the government to root out corruption from public life, the vigilance organisation on the Railways have identified traffic undercharges, scrap disposal and irregularities in staff payments as thrust areas for intensive vigilance scrutiny in order to prevent possible leakage of revenue. Installation of electronic weighbridges, computerization of stores accounts, etc, are some of the measures being taken in this connection. The Vigilance continued its drive in mass contact areas such as passenger reservation, luggage and parcel bookings, trains, catering and settlement of claims which has resulted in realisation of earnings to the tune of Rs 4.20 crores approximately in 2003-04. Industrial relations Indian Railways have continuous dialogue with staff federations through the permanent negotiating machinery (PNM). There is also a regular dialogue with officers as well as staff federations through the forum ‘participation of railway employees in management’ (PREM). We have been getting the full cooperation and participation of these federations in achieving the targets and laying down the future road map. Railways are undertaking various welfare schemes for the betterment of Railway employees which are constantly reviewed with an eye on improvement. For encouraging the welfare and empowerment of the women employees, a new activity has been provided for under the staff benefit fund. Based on the per capita contribution of 50 paise, a sum of about Rs 7 lakh has been set aside. This would be utilised exclusively for the welfare and empowerment activities for women employees. Facilities for licensed porters In order to further improve the lot of the licensed porters, Railways have provided shelters at stations where they can take rest. It is proposed that these shelters will be improved by providing funds to the extent of Rs 5 crore. Even though the porters (coolies) working on the railway stations are not railway servants, the facility of one set of privilege pass for the licensed porter for self only is permitted from the station of working to any station on Indian Railways and back in second/sleeper class. I now propose to extend this facility to the spouse of the porter also. Social security scheme for unorganised sector Sir, in the common minimum programme we are committed to enhancing the welfare and well-being of workers particularly in the unorganised sector and assure a secure future for their families in every respect. As far as the Railways are concerned, we have always been a model employer. As the House is aware, a social security scheme for unorganised sector workers is being implemented in 50 districts on a pilot basis. Under this scheme there is a provision for health insurance through universal insurance scheme, a personal accident insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh and minimum old age pension of Rs 500 per month on attaining the age of 60 years. I propose to cover workers in the unorganised sector coming into contact with the Railways such as licensed porters (coolies), vendors, hawkers, people working in stalls, cycle stand, construction workers, etc., in this scheme. As a measure of good will, I propose to make a grant to the ‘unorganised workers social security fund’ so that the licensed porters, who are self-employed, may also be covered by this scheme. An awareness and education campaign will also be launched to enable these licensed porters who are self-employed to join the scheme by making appropriate contribution. So far as other unorganised sector workers associated with Railways who are employed by contractors/licensees are concerned, appropriate provisions will be incorporated in the terms of the contract in consultation with the labour and law Ministries, to enable the contractors/licensees to implement the provisions of this social security scheme. I sincerely hope that this will become a milestone in bringing a large number of unorganised workers under social security net. Reservation I am glad to inform this august House that the prescribed percentage of representation for scheduled castes has been achieved in all groups of railway services. However, the representation of scheduled tribes in all the groups of services except Group ‘A’ is slightly less than the prescribed percentage of 7.5%, due to non-availability of eligible candidates. I have directed to launch a special drive for clearing the backlog in respect of reserved vacancies for scheduled tribes. As far as the representation of other backward classes (OBCs) is concerned, I would like to inform the House that since the introduction of reservation for them (year 1993) every effort is being made to recruit OBCs in direct recruitment categories as per the prescribed percentage quota. Although not much shortfall is found in Group ‘A’ categories, there is a shortfall in filling up such direct recruitment quota posts at Group ‘C’ & ‘D’ levels on account of non-availability of suitable candidates and candidates not joining after being selected. I have directed to launch a special drive for clearing the backlog in respect of reserved vacancies for other backward classes. Sports In the field of sports, the performance of Indian Railways during the year 2003-04 has been outstanding both at national and international levels. It is a matter of great pride that Railway sportspersons have given a splendid performance in the Afro Asian Games – 2003 held at Hyderabad. Besides Indian Railways volleyball, basketball and golf teams won first ever gold, silver and bronze medals respectively in World Railway Championships of 2003-04. At the national level, Railway athletes won 16 national titles in different games and stood runners-up in 12 disciplines. Seven sportspersons have been honoured with prestigious Arjuna Award and one each with Dhyan Chand and Dronacharya Awards. I would like to make a special mention regarding Miss K M Beenamol, a Railway athlete, who has been honoured with the Padmashri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards during the year. This is the first ever time 10 Railway sportspersons have been honoured with such awards in a year. Public sector undertakings The performance of public sector undertakings has been consistently satisfactory during the year 2002-03 also. IRCON International Ltd had a turnover of Rs 800 crore and earned a net profit of Rs 87 crore. It paid a dividend of Rs 18.81 crore for the year 2002-03. RITES Ltd has achieved its highest ever total income of Rs 321.5 crore recording a net profit of Rs 54.4 crore for the year 2002-03. It paid a dividend of Rs 5 crore. The Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) had a total income of Rs 1,534 crore, earning a profit of Rs 272.8 crore and paid Rs 71.5 crore as dividend. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) had a turnover of Rs 73.6 crore and earned a net profit of Rs 5.5 crore. It paid a dividend of Rs 1.2 crore for the year 2002-03. The corporation started the service of internet ticket booking which was extended to more than100 cities in India. Indian Railway Finance Corporation mobilised Rs 2,775 crore during 2002-03 from domestic and overseas markets and has financed the acquisition of 68 electric locomotives, 92 diesel locomotives, 1,653 coaches and 4,731 wagons which have been leased to the Railways. During the year IRFC achieved a net profit of Rs 334.5 crore and paid a dividend of Rs 101 crore. Konkan Railway Corporation The Konkan Railway Corporation has consistently been improving its performance in the last three years of its operations. However, as nearly 70% of the capital cost has been met through market borrowings, the Corporation has a heavy interest burden of about Rs 300 cr per annum due to heavy debt servicing involved. This is apart from the redemption of bonds which are already due. The Railways have been giving continued financial support to this Corporation. I propose to take up the financial problems faced by the Corporation with the participating state governments of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra to find a solution. Passenger amenities There are more than 8,000 stations on Indian Railways which are used by millions of passengers everyday. I have decided to pay special attention towards maintenance and improvement to the passenger amenities at the stations. While an amount of Rs 178 crore, Rs 175 crore and Rs 169 crore was spent in the previous three years respectively, a sum of Rs 215 crore is being provided for improvement to passenger amenities this year to give a thrust to this area. This budgeted outlay of Rs 215 crore shall be spent on specially identified passenger amenity works such as provision of safe and good quality drinking water disinfected by using modern techniques, provision of washable aprons, clean toilets, adequate booking windows, extension of platforms to accommodate full length trains, raising of platform levels, provision and widening of foot over bridges and sub-ways. This will go a long way in ensuring higher standards of cleanliness and hygiene, safe and convenient movement of passengers at the stations, easing of congestion and better passenger dispersal. Such works shall be in progress at approximately 1,100 stations. The deficiencies in the minimum essential passenger amenities at all the stations shall be made good by the end of March 2005. Special emphasis shall also be given to passenger amenities friendly to physically-challenged persons. Railways are endeavouring to provide facilities such as exclusive parking, ramp to main station building, low level toilets and low level drinking water taps, non-slippery pathways and ‘May I Help You’ booths, on all 225 ‘A’ class stations by March 2005. These facilities will be extended to all 283 ‘B’ class stations in the next three years i.e., by March 2007. To improve the amenities available for passengers travelling in sleeper class, it has been decided to provide additional facilities, such as snack tables in each bay, magazine holder, bottle and tumbler holders and a mirror in each bay of the compartment (for 8 passengers), in GSCN type of coaches. I am glad to inform the House that all new coaches are being manufactured with crash worthiness features. Special measures for women commuters Deployment of lady ticket checking squads on some sections of zonal Railways has proved helpful in infusing a sense of security among the female passengers travelling by trains. Encouraged by the results of this experimental step taken by Indian Railways, we have decided to extend the deployment of such lady squads over all the zonal Railways wherever it is required. In order to ease the problem faced by women commuters, it has been decided that unauthorized vendors will not be allowed to enter the women’s compartment in suburban trains. Stickers indicating the phone numbers of the security helpline will be affixed prominently in the compartments. Other measures The House had also been informed that in order to prevent coaches from climbing over each other in case of an accident tightlock centre buffer couplers would progressively be introduced. In this respect, apart from the new coaches of German design, which have this feature, ICF design coaches are also fitted with such couplers, and it is planned that the following long distance 24-coach trains shall also be fitted with these couplers: Tamil Nadu Express from Chennai to New Delhi Andhra Pradesh Express from Hyderabad to New Delhi Godavari Express from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam Charminar Express from Hyderabad to Chennai Railway Administration will, as far as possible, try to ensure to increase the number of unreserved ordinary class coaches in the heavily crowded long-distance passenger trains. Village-on-Wheels – tourist train for common man Indian Railways have been running trains for upper-end tourists like Palace on Wheels, Royal Orient, etc. No such facility exists for common people particularly from small towns and villages. It is proposed to run tourist special trains of ordinary sleeper class coaches which will run to a pre-determined schedule. These trains will collect the tourists from a region and take them to important places of religious and historical importance at affordable cost. Apart from promoting tourism this will enable the common man to travel around the country easily. New services In the interim Rail Budget for 2004-05, 18 pairs of Sampark Kranti Express trains were proposed. Of these Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express has already been introduced as a tri-weekly service in February 2004. To cater to the needs of New Delhi–Darbhanga sector, it is proposed to extend the already announced New Delhi–Samastipur Bihar Sampark Kranti Express to Darbhanga. With this, the new services proposed for the year 2004-05 are as follows: (A)Introduction Sampark Kranti Express (1) Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Express from New Delhi to Guwahati (2)Andhra Pradesh Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Secunderabad (3)Bihar Sampark Kranti Express from New Delhi to Darbhanga (4)Chattisgarh Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Durg (5)Gujarat Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Ahmedabad (6)Jharkand Sampark Kranti Express from New Delhi to Ranchi (7)Kerala Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Trivandrum (Kochuveli) (8)Maharashtra Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Mumbai (Bandra) (9)Madhya Pradesh Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Jabalpur (10)Orissa Sampark Kranti Express from New Delhi to Bhubaneshwar (11)Rajasthan Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi to Jodhpur (12)Tamil Nadu Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Madurai (13)Uttar Pradesh Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Chitrakoot (14)Uttaranchal Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi to Kathgodam (15)West Bengal Sampark Kranti Express from New Delhi to Kolkata (Sealdah) (16)Goa Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Madgaon (17)Uttar Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi to Udhampur, to cater for Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Frequency of these Sampark Kranti trains will be decided depending upon their patronage. Other new trains: (18) Muzaffarpur-Ahmedabad Jansadharan Express (weekly) (19) Chennai Central-Nagercoil Express (weekly) (20) Muzaffarpur-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) Jansadharan Express (weekly) (21) Ramnagar-Moradabad Passenger (daily) (22) Bangalore City-Bangarapet Express (daily) (23) Saharasa-Mansi Passenger (daily) (24) Chararu Takrala-Ambala Cantt DMU service (daily) (25) Chennai Egmore-Kumbakonam Express (daily) (26)Mysore-Dharwar Express (daily) (27)Chennai Central-Hubli Express (weekly) (28)Chennai Egmore-Tenkasi-Sengottai Express (after gauge conversion) (29) Jaipur-Agra Fort Express (after gauge conversion) (30) Delhi-Faizabad Express (31) Indore-Patna Express via Faizabad (weekly) (32)Guwahati-Jha Jha Express via Jasidih (weekly) B. Extension 8411/8412 Bhubaneswar-Srikakulam Express up to Vishakhapatnam. 8303/8304 Sambhalpur-Bhubaneswar Express up to Puri. 1 BSL/339 Bikaner-Bathinda Passenger up to Abohar. 199/200 Jaipur-Bikaner Passenger up to Suratgarh. 7029/7030 Hyderabad-Ernakulam Sabri Express up to Kochuveli. 2069/2070 Raigarh-Dongargarh Janshatabdi up to Gondia. 5711/5712 New Jalpaiguri-Asansol Express up to Alipurduar on one hand and Ranchi on the other. 9049/9050 Rajendra Nagar-Valsad Express up to Bandra Terminus. Two pairs of Mankapur-Katra Passengers to Faizabad. C.Increase in Frequency (1)1067/1068 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus –Faizabad Saket Express from weekly to bi-weekly. 2313/2314 New Delhi-Sealdah Rajdhani Express from 5 days to daily. 6507/6508 Jodhpur-Bangalore Express from weekly to bi-weekly. 1017/1018 Bangalore-Mumbai Chalukya Express from tri-weekly to six days a week by cancelling 1049/1050 Dadar-Yashwantpur Express (bi-weekly). 3149/3150 Sealdah-Alipurduar Kanchankanya Express from tri-weekly to 4 days a week. 2141/2142 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Rajendra Nagar Express from 6 days a week to daily. 2957/2958 New Delhi-Ahmedabad Rajdhani Express from tri-weekly to 6 days a week. 9319/9320 Indore-Bhind Express from weekly to tri-weekly by extending 9307/9308 Indore-Gwalior Express (bi-weekly) up to Bhind. 2317/2318 Sealdah-Amritsar Akal Takhat Express from weekly to bi-weekly by extending 2319/2320 Amritsar-Asansol Express (weekly) up to Sealdah. 2129/2130 Pune-Howrah Azad Hind Express from 5 days a week to daily by extending 2131/2132 Pune-Nagpur Express (bi-weekly) up to Howrah. 6309/6310 Patna-Ernakulam Express from weekly to bi-weekly. 2649/2650 Yeshwantpur-Nizamuddin Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express from tri-weekly to daily. I earnestly hope that collectively, these 54 pairs of additional services will go a long way in reinforcing the resolve of Indian Railways to meet the rising aspirations of the travelling public from all parts of the country. Annual Plan 2004-2005 Sir, I would now like to present the annual plan 2004-2005. The plan outlay for 2004-2005 has been kept at Rs 11,265 crore. Taking into account the outlay of Rs 2,933 crore on safety related works through the special railway safety fund (SRSF), the total outlay comes to Rs 14,198 crore. This is Rs 773 crore more than the outlay of the interim budget. For the year 2004-2005, the total funds received from general exchequer are the same as provided in iInterim budget i.e. Rs 7,020 crore, which includes Rs 2,075 crore as ontribution towards the SRSF and Rs 401 crore from the Central Road Fund. The corresponding figure for last year’s Budget Estimates was Rs 6577.34 crore, including Rs 1,600 crore for the SRSF and Rs 433 crore from the Central Road Fund. For the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla National Project a separate allotment of Rs 300 crore has been received, due to which Railways’ total plan outlay becomes Rs 14,498 crore. In addition to the budgetary support, I propose to provide Rs 2,870 crore for plan expenditure through internal resource generation which is higher than what was budgeted for last year by Rs 240 crore. As in previous years, extra-budgetary resources, mainly through market borrowing from Indian Railways Finance Corporation will provide the balance requirement of the Plan. This includes Rs 3,400 crore as market borrowing and Rs 50 crore as investment through a “BOT� project in the Viramgam-Mehsana Gauge Conversion work. For the Special Railway Safety Fund, the contribution of the Central government would be supplemented by Railways’ own contribution which is expected to be Rs 858 crore, taking the total outlay under SRSF to Rs 2,933 crore. Sir, the thrust of the annual plan is development and safety. The total outlay under Capital on the five major plan project heads this year has been kept at Rs 2,696 crore with Rs 947 crore on new lines which, after taking into account Rs 300 crore received specifically for Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla New Line, comes to Rs 1,247 crore. Besides new lines, Rs 760 crore on Gauge Conversion, Rs 479 crore for Doubling and Rs 125 crore for Electrification. The outlay on metropolitan transport projects has been kept at Rs 385 crore. Apart from this, Rs 717 crore are being allotted to several works in the planheads New Lines, Doubling, Gauge Conversion and Railway Electrification, which are to be executed by the Rail Vikas Nigam. The outlay on safety related planheads, inclusive of outlay given under the Special Railway Safety Fund, is Rs 2,570 crore for Track Renewals, Rs 528 crore for the Bridges and Rs 813 crore for Signalling & Telecommunications. Part II Budget Estimates 2004-05 Mr Speaker sir, I shall now deal with the Budget Estimates for 2004-05. The estimates presented to this august House through the interim budget 2004-05 were based on the revised estimates fixed for 2003-04. In the light of the approximate financial results for 2003-04, which are now available, the interim budget estimates have been reviewed and updated. The interim budget anticipated a growth rate of 5.49% in passenger earnings for the year 2004-05. However, in the light of actual growth rate achieved during 2003-04, the passenger earnings are now proposed to be revised downward from Rs 14,200 crore of interim budget to Rs 13,940 crore. Freight earnings, which were brought down at the revised estimates stage last year, based on the trend at that time, showed remarkable recovery during the remaining part of the last year due to general buoyancy, as a result of which the revised target was surpassed. Enthused by this trend, it is proposed to revise the freight earnings for the current year, duly enhancing the loading target by 10 million tonnes and fixing the same at 580 million tonnes. Accordingly, the freight earnings, have been placed at Rs 28,745 crore, which is Rs 645 crore higher than the interim budget level. Other coaching earnings in the interim budget were assessed at Rs 990 crore assuming a growth of around 6.5% over the revised estimates, 2003-04. These are now assessed at Rs 1,040 crore taking into account the proposed re-classification of parcel rates, which is estimated to fetch additional revenue of Rs 50 crore. I will come to the details of this re-classification in the later part of my speech. Taking note of the shortfall in sundry other earnings in 2003-04, the target for the current fiscal is being set at Rs 1,072 crore, which is Rs 40 crore lower than the interim budget. With an additional clearance of Rs 25 crore of traffic suspense, the gross traffic receipts for the current financial year are now estimated at Rs 44,902 crore, which are Rs 420 crore higher than the interim budget. The requirement of funds for ordinary working expenses for 2004-05, which were placed at Rs 32,960 crore in the interim budget, have been recast in view of the savings achieved in the previous year. There have, however, been post-interim budget factors such as merger of 50% of DA with the basic pay and increase in the price of diesel that were naturally not provided in the interim budget. Due to stringent measures taken by the Railways for expenditure control and zero base budgeting, the Railways are hopeful of not only absorbing the impact of these factors within the interim budget but also reducing the ordinary working expenses by Rs. 100 crore. Accordingly, these are being kept at Rs 32,860 crore in BE 2004-05. Appropriation to depreciation reserve fund, which was kept at Rs 1900 crore in the Interim Budget, is being stepped up to Rs 2,267 crore. Taking note of present and future replacement requirements there is a conscious decision to enhance the funding of the depreciation reserve fund. In view of a slight reduction anticipated in the pension liability, the appropriation to Pension Fund from revenue is being reduced by Rs 100 crore over the interim budget level of Rs 6,390 crore. Thus the total working expenses now work out to Rs 41,417 crore and the net traffic receipts come to Rs 3,485 crore as against Rs 3,232 cr of interim budget. With a sum of Rs 993 crore coming from net miscellaneous receipts, the net railway revenue now works out to Rs 4,478 crore as against Rs 4,225 crore of the interim budget. After payment of current dividend of Rs 3,305 crore and Rs 300 crore towards the deferred dividend liability, Railways are left with a ‘surplus’ of Rs 873 crore. With the increased emphasis on safety, it is proposed to deploy Rs 158 crore of this surplus through Special Railway Safety Fund and the remaining through Development Fund for modernisation and development activities. My effort will be to ensure that the results of greater efficiency and better capacity utilisation are made truly meaningful in the national context. The benefits of better performance of the railways should be passed on to the common man and the national economy, to contribute to growth and price stability. It will be my endeavour to lessen the burden on the economically weaker sections of the society who are dependent upon the railways for providing them a relatively inexpensive mode of transport from one end of the country to the other. With a view to sustain and improve market share, I do not propose any increase in the freight rates for the year 2004-05. However, a fresh look at our policies to develop a long-term relationship with our freight customers, by offering them suitable incentives for their investment in the transport infrastructure of Indian Railways is necessary. In this direction, I intend to initiate a few steps. In the last year, the Railways have made a major breakthrough in part clearance of their long outstanding dues from the Badarpur Thermal Power Station (BTPS). Continued clearance and arrest of further accretion are expected through the introduction of the facility of electronic payment of freight in a major way, thereby affording our customers a clean, quick and transparent facility to render freight payment at the station of their convenience and in the process also expedite realisation of railway freight earnings. A pilot project for setting up Electronic Payment Gateway has been proposed under which the BTPS will be informed of freight payable at the destination station and electronic transfer of funds to the Railway’s account will take place. This facility, once established, will be expanded to cover all freight customers who opt for the same. This will ensure speedy and secure transfer of funds apart from eliminating cumbersome and time-consuming paper work. A new scheme, called “engine-on-load� (EOL) scheme, wherein the train engine will wait during loading or unloading operation is being introduced to ensure faster release and better availability of wagons. Under this scheme, the free time for loading or unloading will be lower than the existing norms. The EOL customers will be exempted from payment of engine hire charges, siding charges, shunting charges and the cost of all the railway staff posted in the sidings. A system of debit/credit hours, for computation of demurrage will be introduced. In order to encourage rail movement of heavy machinery consignments for thermal power stations and other industries, a freight rebate of 10% is proposed to be granted for all such movements undertaken in special type of wagons, owned by the customers. Further, the technical staff of the customers and the railway staff, escorting the consignment, will also be permitted free of charge. Such movement of heavy consignments by rail will help in reducing the damage to the roads besides being an eco-friendly mode of transportation. In order to remove anomalies in the method of arriving at the chargeable distance for fare and freight by different zonal railways, the total distance will be rounded off to the next higher kilometer only once at the end, instead of multiple rounding off at intermediate stages. This rationalisation will bring uniformity in charging of fare and freight. Passenger services I do not propose any increase in the passenger fares for any class of travel for the year 2004-05 Parcel services In the parcel segment, a new concept of uniform rates for all commodities, including luggage, based on the type of service was introduced instead of commodity-based rate structure. During this rationalisation the rates for booking of parcels became generally lower. It is proposed to increase the rates for booking of parcels by Rajdhani Express trains, under Scale-R, by around 7.1% and fix the rates under scale-P at around 53% of the rates under Scale-R, as against around 43% at present. Further, the lowest Scale–E is proposed to be merged with the Standard Scale–S, reducing the total number of rate scales from existing 4 Scales to 3 Scales. The ratio between the highest and the lowest rates will reduce from 6.2 to 3. The rates under Scale–S will remain unchanged. However, the newspapers & magazines will be booked at concessional rates uniformly at 45% of the Scale-S rates by all trains. It is also proposed that all types of special Parcel trains, including Millennium Parcel Trains, shall be charged at Scale–P instead of Scale-S. The above adjustments in parcel rates are expected to generate additional revenue of Rs 50 crore during the remaining period of the current year. Sir, despite there being no additional resource mobilization measures by increasing passenger fares or freight rates and post interim budget factors of 50% DA merger and increase in diesel price, the Operating Ratio shows improvement, and is now budgeted at 92.6% against 93% in the interim budget. Conclusion Sir, I consider it a privilege and also a unique opportunity to lead the Railways and will make every effort to further improve its performance so that it will continue to play a pivotal role in the economic prosperity of this great country and its people. I acknowledge the enthusiasm and unstinted support of railwaymen without whose dedicated efforts the creditable achievements of the Railways would not have been possible. Our thanks are due to passengers and users of the Railway whose co-operation we have always been getting and I expect that this co-operation will be forthcoming in future too. Sir, over the last many years Railways have been neglected to a certain extent. The investment in its infrastructure has, in real terms, not been sufficient to keep pace with the growth of the economy and meet the aspirations of the people as endorsed by the elected representatives all over the country. I have discussed this issue with the hon''ble prime minister and he has been kind enough to express whole-hearted support consistent with the key role Indian Railways play in the development of the nation and has also stressed the United Progressive Alliance government’s commitment to ensure that this system becomes one of the best Railway systems in the world, be it technological development, management techniques or provision of facilities to its users, for which funds would be forthcoming without any hindrance. While placing on record my gratitude for this generous gesture, it will be my endeavour to fulfil the expectations of the nation, for which apart from implementing the measures announced, a comprehensive plan will be drawn up.With these words, Sir, I commend the Railway Budget 2004- 2005 to the House.�
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