*SYNOPSIS OF DEBATES
(Proceedings other than Questions & Answers)
Tuesday, April 23, 2002/Vaisakha 3, 1924 (Saka)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : I have to inform the House of the sad demise of one of our former colleagues, Shri V.N. Swaminathan. Shri V.N. Swaminathan was a Member of Seventh Lok Sabha from 1980 to 1984 representing Pudukkottai Parliamentary Constituency of Tamil Nadu. Shri Swaminathan was a Member of Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House during 1983. An agriculturist and businessman by profession, Shri Swaminathan was an active social and political worker. He had special interest in sports. He served as the President of Rotary Club, Pattukkottai, Tamil Nadu.
Shri V.N. Swaminathan passed away on 4 April, 2002 at Chennai, Tamil Nadu at the age of 58. We deeply mourn the loss of this friend and I am sure the House would join me in conveying our condolences to the bereaved family.
The Members then stood in silence for a short while.
OBSERVATION BY DEPUTY-SPEAKER
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : I have received 89 notices of motion under Rule 184 and seven notices of Short Duration Discussion under Rule 193 seeking to discuss the situation that has been obtaining for some time now in Gujarat. Three notices under Rule 184 from Shri Basu Deb Acharia, Shri Ajoy Chakraborty and Kunwar Akhilesh Singh being inadmissible in the form in which they have been given, it leaves us with 86 notices under Rule 184. Out of these, one notice is from Shri Ramji Lal Suman, one from Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, one from Shri Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, 22 with identical text from Shri G.M. Banatwalla and 21 others, and 61 with identical text from Shri S. Jaipal Reddy and 60 others. The text of each of the seven notices under rule 193 is different.
I also received a communication from Shri K.Yerrannaidu seeking discussion on the Gujarat issue without mentioning any rule and the same has been disallowed.
Hon. Members of the House are sharply divided on the modality of discussing the Gujarat situation. The demand of the Opposition is that the matter should be discussed under Rule 184. While the treasury benches are strongly against application of Rule 184, they would have no objection to the discussion as such under rule 193. As the hon. Members of the House are aware, there has been persistent commotion in the House ever since it reconvened on 15th April, 2002 for the second phase of the current Budget Session. In the process, we have already lost six precious working days due to forced adjournment of the House without transacting any business.
In my sincere efforts to resolve the deadlock in the House, I convened a high level meeting of Leaders of Parties in Lok Sabha on 19th April, 2002, which was attended by the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition and Leaders of other parties in Lok Sabha. Unfortunately, however, a common meeting ground could not be reached. I adjourned the meeting with the hope that perhaps the ruling and the opposition parties would be able to reach a consensus over the matter during the weekend. But my hope has been belied.
Hon. Members would agree that we can ill-afford to lose valuable time further as the essential financial business still remains to be transacted. In the circumstances, it becomes my duty now to take a decision on the matter taking notice of the various viewpoints that have been expressed.
Gujarat situation is, indeed, a matter of "general public interest" within the meaning of Rule 184. The notices of motion do raise a substantial and definite issue.
No doubt, the Gujarat situation has been discussed before in the first phase of the current Budget Session on 11th March, 2002. It is not, however, the position of the Government, as I have already pointed out, that the matter should not be discussed again. In any case, the ground situation in Gujarat is that there have been serious incidents of violence even subsequent to the earlier discussion. These incidents have also been widespread in several districts of the State. Hundreds have been killed or injured. Thousands are in relief camps and properties have been extensively damaged. The National Human Rights Commission, the Minorities Commission and independent woman activists of national repute who have visited the State have commented on the gravity of the situation obtaining in the State. The gravity of the ground situation is also self-evident from the fact that the Army has been called in to aid civil authority. The Army deployment continues. In the circumstances, the Gujarat situation cannot also be construed as an ordinary law and order matter which is the concern of the State Government only.
I have also looked into the available precedents having a bearing on the matter. There is an instance when in 1997, a motion regarding "the serious situation arising out of the passive attitude of the Central Government over recent developments in Bihar" was discussed in the House. The matter, which was initially taken up in the House by way of an Adjournment Motion, was converted, with the approval of the House, into a motion under Rule 184 and disposed of accordingly under this rule.
Most importantly, I would urge all the Members of the House to remind themselves of article 355 of the Constitution according to which it shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State, inter alia, against internal disturbances and ensure that the Government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
In the circumstances, I admit the notices of motion under Rule 184. As per well-established practice, if there are more than one notice on a subject, the notice which is first in point of time gets precedence. In this case, the notice received from Shri Ramji Lal Suman being the first in point of time, I allow him to initiate the discussion. The text of the notice, which is in Hindi, is as follows:
"That this House expresses its grave concern over the failure of the administration in ensuring the security of minority community in various parts of the country, specially in Gujarat, and urges upon the Government to take effective steps to restore confidence of the minority communities and to protect them."
The time for discussion may be decided by the Business Advisory Committee.
Situation arising due to denial of a financial package to Bihar
DR. RAGHUVANSH PRASAD SINGH called the attention of Minister of Planning to the situation arising due to denial of a financial package to Bihar.
THE MINISTER OF STATE OF THE MINISTRY OF SMALL SCALE INDUSTRIES, MINISTER OF STATES IN THE MINISTRY OF PERSONNEL, PUBLIC GRIEVANCES AND PENSIONS, MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF PLANNING AND MINISTER OF STATE IN THE DEPARTMENTS OF ATOMIC ENERGY AND SPACE (SHRIMATI VASUNDHARA RAJE) : The Central Government fully recognises the development potential of the State and its needs. The memorandum submitted by the hon. Member of Parliament has been forwarded to the concerned Ministries of the Government of India for taking appropriate action as per the established ways of providing assistance.
The Notice relates to the financial position of the State of Bihar vis-à-vis its development needs. Development planning of the State of Bihar is a function of the State Government under its Five Year and Annual Plans, and the Centre assists the State following well-established formulations such as Central Plan Assistance to the States, Centrally-Sponsored Schemes, and Additional Central Assistance. In addition, Central Government also supports and assists the States to avail funding from bilateral and multilateral financing agencies, market borrowings, and borrowings from institutional sources. The House is well aware of the methodology of allocation of Central Assistance under both plan and non-plan.
The hon. Member has made the demands that the Centre should give a write-off of the outstanding loans of the State, that Bihar should be given the Special Category State status, and that certain amounts under the Tenth and Eleventh Finance Commission awards which were not released to the State should be released. Regarding these demands, information is as follows:
In respect of write-off of the outstanding loans, Ministry of Finance has carefully looked into this demand and has not agreed to it. In regard to according Special Category State status to Bihar, as the State does not fulfill the criteria laid down for declaration as a Special Category State, it has not been possible to declare it as a Special Category State. In regard to release of withheld funds of Tenth and Eleventh Finance Commissions, Finance Ministry has stated that the grants relating to Panchayati Raj institutions under the Tenth Finance Commission other than for the year 1996-97, have lapsed due to the delay in holding elections to Panchayati Raj institutions, which was done only in April/May of 2001. For the same reason, the Panchayati Raj institution grants for the year 2000-01 under the Eleventh Finance Commission could also not be released.
Various issues raised in the Calling Attention Notice such as strengthening of the transmission network, rural electrification, roads, flood control, and tackling the problems of drought and water-logging, are all sectors within the competence of the State Government. The Assistance is available from Central Government under respective Centrally-Sponsored Schemes. In regard to energy sector, assistance is also available from specialised agencies such as the Power Finance Corporation and the Rural Electrification Corporation. The State can make use of these resources to tackle the problems.
Central support to the State of Bihar has been substantially increased under the Eleventh Finance Commission award. In line with the recommendations of the Eleventh Finance Commission, an Incentive Fund for encouraging States to undertake fiscal reforms has been set up. For reforms in the power sector, an Accelerated Power Development Programme is being implemented by the Ministry of Power. The State Government can utilise these windows by preparing specific and monitorable commitments under a comprehensive reform package covering not only fiscal issues but other issues as well, such as power reforms, land reforms, downsizing the government and government-supported entities, etc.
As regards an economic package, the Planning Commission has provided additional Central assistance of Rs. 50 crore during the year 2002-01 followed by similar assistance of Rs. 100 crore during the year 2001-02 for a variety of developmental projects.
However, it has been noticed that in several instances, the utilisation of Central funds by the State of Bihar is below the available provisions. It is for the State Government finally to rectify this situation of under-utilisation of Central assistance.
Responding to the points raised by Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the Minister further stated : Concerns of the State of Bihar are also the concerns of the Central Government. It is with this in mind that a certain series of initiatives have been taken by the Central Government so that after the division also, Bihar will get its full attention. An official Committee on Bihar has been set up in the Planning Commission. The Cell has received enormous number of proposals from the State Government. These have been sent to the various Ministries concerned, with the request to take appropriate and urgent action. We have also asked the Government of Bihar to follow up this action with the concerned Ministries.
An additional Central assistance of Rs.150 crore has been sanctioned so far to the State. The Planning Commission has also decided to prepare what is called the State Development Report for Bihar through the Institute of Human Development, New Delhi. This Draft Report has been recently received and it is going to be discussed at the State level in Patna. The various Ministries and Departments of the Government of India have also initiated action with the Planning Commission. The expansion of national highways has been planned in Bihar. Centrally sponsored schemes on agriculture are already in existence. The NTPC has planned projects for the future. Telecom facilities are being extended and the work on the expansion of the airstrip is, at the moment, underway. We are also seized of the fact that Bihar, with its lowest per capita income in the country, is lagging behind from other States and needs special attention in the matter of growth and development.
A very important perception of the Planning Commission is that Bihar with its very vital natural resources of soil and water is actually well suited for a very marked improvement in the performance in areas of agriculture, horticulture, fishery specially when its people are so capable and hard working. The Planning Commission is considering a scheme where a large number of shallow tube wells will be installed with peoples participation and their maintenance and ownership will be transferred to the farmers. NABARD is actively involved in making the scheme a reality at the moment. We do recognise that though there had been a lot of devastation due to floods which would recur as has happened frequently, certain construction of dams particularly in the townships of Nepal will be required. The Government of India has been taking up this matter with the Government of Nepal so that the hydel resources of both the countries can actually be developed for their mutual benefits.
The gross budgetary support for the Annual State and Central Plan for 2001-02 has been of the order of around Rs.100,000 crore. The total approved Annual Plan outlays during the Ninth Plan period for the State of Bihar have ranged from Rs. 2,000 crore to Rs. 3,000 crore. In this context the demand which has been raised by the Government of Bihar is very far beyond the financial capabilities of the Central Government. There is substantial non-utilisation of plan funds that are allocated by the Centre to Bihar under various social sector schemes. If majority of these funds are utilised efficiently, additional funding and counterpart funding can be made available by the Central Government. The need, therefore, is to improve the implementation of the existing schemes in the State of Bihar. Additional funds are provided to the States under project-based assistance. Development is not the outcome of just funding alone but a better management and well-functioning institutions. The Planning Commission provides from Central Plan, assistance to the States to supplement their plan outlays. Subsequent decisions for planning and development in different sectors, including the allocation of funds for their schemes and programmes are to be taken up by the State Government. The State of Bihar has to make the special efforts to improve its delivery mechanism, monitoring and evaluation arrangements and also to improve its skills in the preparation of the projects. In its march towards progress, Bihar will be fully and completely supported by us.
SPECIAL MENTION BY MEMBERS
Re: Certain objectionable Questions set reportedly in the Board Examinations in Gujarat.
THE MINISTER OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS AND MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMTION TECHNOLOGY (SHRI PRAMOD MAHAJAN) responding to the issue raised by several hon. Members, said : As the hon. Member rightly said, we have to ascertain the facts. We cannot authenticate it. It may be true or it may not be true. Let us ascertain the truth. Then, we can discuss it.
MATTERS UNDER RULE 377
(i) Need to ensure adequate power supply to Gujarat from the Central Grid.
SHRI P.S. GADHAVI: Gujarat State is facing acute shortage of electricity. As against the demand of 7980 M.W. uncontrolled demand is about 8100 M.W. Production of Power in State is only 5535 M.W. The rural areas Industries face constant power cut and farmers are not getting power supply for more than four hours and that too with interruptions. This shortage of power will also cause acute shortage of water for drinking and irrigation. I therefore urge Central Government to immediately intervene in the matter and see that Gujarat State can get adequate power supply from Central Grid.
(ii) Need to obtain World Bank loan for early completion of Kanpur irrigation Project in Keonjhar district of Orissa
SHRI ANANTA NAYAK: Kanpur irrigation project of my Parliamentary Constituency has been pending for more than last twenty years. The project is located in a backward and predominately tribal dominated area of Orissa. Once the project is completed it will irrigate five blocks of two sub-divisions in drought prone Keonjhar district. The farmers who are starving for want of water will be able to grow at least two crops a year. I request the Central Government that necessary formalities for World Bank loan be completed and adequate fund should be allocated for the implementation of Kanpur Irrigation Project in Keonjhar district of Orissa.
(iii) Need for early completion of renovation work of Dwarka Peeth in Jamnagar Parliamentary Constituency of Gujarat.
SHRI CHANDRESH PATEL: Renovation work of Dwarka Peeth in Dwarka city of Jamnagar parliamentary constituency of Gujarat is going on for years and is not complete yet. I have been raising this matter time and again but the situation has not changed. Therefore, I request the Central Government to get the renovation work completed soon.
(iv) Need to protect the interests of workers of Bharat Gold Mines Ltd., Kolar, Karnataka.
SHRI K.H. MUNIYAPPA : I invite the immediate attention of the Government towards the pitiable plight of about 4,000 workers of Bharat Gold Mines Ltd., Kolar whose livelihood stands threatened due to the closure of the unit since long. They have not been paid salaries/wages for the last one-year. I urge the Centre to provide for immediate settlement of salary/wages dues for the last one year, allotment of 2 acres of land each to eligible workers and introduction of the revised VRS scheme to enable the workers and their families to rehabilitate themselves.
(v) Need for alround development of Goalpukhur and Chakulia revenue blocks in West Bengal.
SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI: The erstwhile Bihars urdu speaking people and part of Hindu refugees have been settled in Goalpukhur and Chakulia revenue blocks of West Bengal in U.D. district. Till this date, no infrastructural development took place and least the education. The rural electrifications are negligible in all Gram Panchayats of Goalpukhur. A bridge at Kamath Sambhalpur, Loha Gachhi on Sudani river, Bochagari in Gooti G.P. unless are expeditiously constructed by "Border Area Development Fund" scheme, the infrastructural development for economic activities shall not gain momentum. A Krishi Vikash Kendra can also be considered in this area. I, therefore, draw the attention of the Minister of Planning to immediately respond to the issue involving the Government of West Bengal in the 10th plan period.
(vi) Need to take up the issue of cross-border terrorism with the Government of Bhutan.
SHRIMATI MINATI SEN : The entire North Bengal in general and Jalpaiguri district in particular, which is having borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh, is a den of terrorist activities. The terrorists have a large number of training camps in Bhutan bordering these places of North Bengal. The Hydro Electric Power Project of the Government of India is situated at Kerabari above Kalikhola and its security in view of this insurgency is at stake. I urge upon the Government to take the matter with the Government of Bhutan to take steps to demolish the training camps inside Bhutan and deny shelter to the militants.
(vii) Need to address the grievances of people affected by Upper Ganga Dam Project in Hingoli district, Maharashtra.
SHRI SHIVAJI MANE: In the year 1968, Upper Ganga Dam Project was constructed by acquiring the land of many tribal and schedule castes people. But all were not paid compensation and compensation between Rs. 800 to 900 per acre was paid to only a few. After acquisition of land, people are devoid of land as well as employment. In this regard the court has given judgement in favour of affected people. I urge the Government to investigate the matter and punish the guilty and also to pay the compensation to the affected people as per the court orders.
(viii) Need to give priority to the over-aged agricultural Researchers/Investigators for employment in various Government projects including Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
SHRIMATI RENU KUMARI: For the continuous development of agriculture, Senior Investigators and Researchers are working under various projects of the Government of India and due to the over-age, their future is in dark. They are neither given employment elsewhere not are given priority in other projects. In view of the their problems, some agriculture universities have offered them employment against vacant posts. On the basis of their experience and qualifications these workers should be employed in various units of I.A.R.I. against vacant posts. They should be given priority for appointment in various projects of the Government of India and the age-bar for their employment should also be removed.
(ix) Need to allocate adequate funds for construction of a dam at Courtallam National tourist Centre, Tamil Nadu.
SHRI S. MURUGESAN: Courtallam is a well-known national tourist centre in Tamil Nadu. The falls here are frequented by lakhs of people all over the country. Unfortunately during off-season period, there is no water supply in the falls. It is, therefore, suggested that a minor dam of about 600 metres length above three kilometers from the falls at Therku Malai be constructed to ensure perennial supply of water in the falls throughout the year, lesser risk to tourists during floods, regular drinking water supply in the area, and irrigation facilities to crops in the area. I urge upon the Government to allocate adequate funds for construction of the dam with a view to promoting tourism.
THE BUDGET (RAILWAYS) 2002-2003
Demands for Grants (Railways) 2002-2003
SHRI E.M. SUDARSANA NATCHIAPPAN : I first of all congratulate the employees of the Railways and the hon. Minister who have now celebrated the 150th year of the running of the first train in India and making the Railways the largest enterprise in the world. When we see the performance of the Railways, we feel that the Railways need a lot of organisational changes and also better management. How are we going to achieve targets with this financial crunch? I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister that even the Railways could not find out what its assets are. What is the share of the transportation of the Railways? Therefore, I would like to suggest that it is high time that we pay more attention on the qualitative capacity augmentation and also adopting corrective pricing policy and organisational changes.
I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister to passenger amenities. Have Government increased the passenger amenities? Not at all. I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister to the diversion of funds. Diversion of funds is allowed in the Indian
Railways Financial Code. This should be repealed. There should not be any diversification of funds and more funds should be allocated to the backward districts and also the districts which can give more revenue generation. I have already requested that Rameshwaram should be given more importance by way of gauge conversion from Tiruchirapalli and Manamadurai and also to Rameshwaram. Taking into consideration the overall presentation of the budget, we would like to submit that the people are expecting much more from the Railways, but still the minimum is given.
PROF. RASA SINGH RAWAT : I strongly support the Demands for Grants of Railways for the year 2002-2003 presented by the Minister of Railways. This is a glorious year in the history of Railways. The Railways has completed 150 years of its inception. The Minister of Railways has declared this year as Passengers Amenities Year in the Budget and has announced a number of amenities in the Budget. The Railways has been a cheap and main means of travel for poor people and people of lower and middle classes during the last 150 years. Today, Railway is considered as the largest medium of social service in this era of globalisation. In order to bail out the Railways from financial crunch, freight and passengers fare have been marginally increased for the first time during the last three years. This will help Railways in its development. For the first time, rationalisation has been introduced in railways due to which, fares have been increased marginally. The Railways have surplus land which are being encroached. This should be stopped. Scrap worth crores of rupees are lying in factories of Railways. We can utilise the money by selling scrap and the surplus land of Railways. In 1984, the Railway Reform Committee had recommended for setting up of a zone in Ajmer. But this has been shifted to Jaipur. Dr. Rakesh Mohan Committee has suggested that the Railways have 25 per cent extra employees and they should be retrenched. I request the hon. Minister of Railways to not to retrench them. Every year, the Railways have to spend 3-4 thousand crore of rupees on electricity. My suggestion is that if the Railways starts its own Thermal-Power Plant, it will help Railways in saving lots of money. Due to fog, both Air services as well as Rail are affected. Therefore, the Government should consult scientists and experts to develop a technique to run trains even in fog. In order to increase the efficiency and productivity, the working of Railways should be reorgansied. Bandikui-Agra line was planned to be converted into broad-gauge 10 years ago. For this purpose, Rs.25 crore have also been provided. I request to expedite the work.
SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : There has been a dismal performance both in terms financial performance as well as physical performance during the last two years. The main reason for this is recession in the country. The Railway Minister has not been able to achieve the freight target finalised for the last two years. Greater emphasis should have been given for increasing the capacity. For this, there has to be a greater allocation. But here, rather the allocation has been reduced. The capacity in the Indian Railways can be further increased by doubling and by increasing the line capacity. But here, even for doubling also, the allocation has been reduced. Similarly, in regard to traffic facility re-moduling which is also necessary for increase in the capacity, there has not been any increase in allocation. The share of the Railways in freight traffic is gradually reducing. In 1950-51, the Railways used to carry 80 per cent of the freight traffic. Today it is carrying 25 per cent of it. The position is the same with the passenger traffic also. The Railways have the capacity within its existing capacity, although there had not been sufficient addition in the railway lines. During past 53 years, our achievement is only an addition of another 9,000 kms. of railway line. But our carrying capacity has increased. The Railways is increasing the target for freight traffic and passenger traffic, whereas the target for acquisition of locomotives, the Indian Railways are reducing.
There is a certain percentage of rolling stock which needs to be replaced as they have already completed their total life. We also feel that there is a need for more allocation for safety. As regards electrification the target is 2334 kilometres but the achievement will be 2256 kilometres. In all the cases whether it is rolling stock or new lines or gauge conversion or doubling or electrification or diesel locomotive or wagons, the Railways will not be able to achieve the targets fixed during Ninth Five Year Plan. How has the Ninth Five Year Plan for the Railways been formulated? We know the problems of the Indian Railways but the point is, how these problems can be resolved. Rakesh Mohan Committee was set up but when the Railways has not accepted the recommendations of the Rakesh Mohan Committee, what was the necessity of setting up of that Committee?
We want to strengthen the Indian Railways. Railway Reforms Committee has presented 16 volumes of the Report. Are the recommendations of the Railways Reforms Committee implemented? Safety Review Committee has been set up very recently. They have also made a number of recommendations. To implement the recommendations, to modernize the system, to replace the rolling stock and the over-aged track, a fund of Rs.17 crore has been created. The use of over-aged rolling stock is a safety hazard. 200 electric locomotives are required to be replaced. Funds have been earmarked for safety. Efficient operation of the Railways depends mostly on signalling system. This year the allocation for signalling replacement and modernization of signalling system has been doubled. But there is a need to replace the rolling stock. I would like to know from the Minister whether the fund which is available for safety will be utilized for replacement of over-aged rolling stock or not.
This year has been declared as Passenger Amenities Year. Allocation for passenger amenities is Rs. 190 crore. The first MEMU train was introduced in 1993 from Asansol to Bardwan. This train has become very popular. In electrified section, there is a demand for more and more MEMU trains. I request that at least two MEMU trains should be given to Adra Division. My suggestion is that there should be two types of EMUs, long distance and short distance. I conclude by saying that the recommendations of Rakesh Mohan Committee would not be accepted. Before taking such decision, you must realist and you should realize that this would not help the Indian Railways to solve the problem, rather it would increase the problem.
SHRI LAL BIHARI TIWARI : The railway budget has taken care of sentiments of people from every nook and corner. As far as railway safety is concerned, the allocation of Rs.17,000 crore have been made for the purpose. I congratulate him for that. I would like to draw the attention of the Government towards few points. It is a matter of great pleasure that the metro project of 11 kilometres stretch worth Rs.600 crore from Teeshazari to Shahadara will start operating by the end of this year. Every effort should be made to make it operational within stipulated schedule. It will help reducing congestion and the pollution level in Delhi besides being a time saver.
The nomenclature of Gautampur station should be changed to Seelampur station. There is a need to provide some railway halts. Nand Nagari should also be given a halt. Provision of Rs.14 crore has been made for the construction of a bridge in the area. I request that to ensure completion of this project in this year, only special attention has to be paid in this direction. The work of Metro route from Barakhambha to Dilshad Garden should be started at once. There is a need to construct an over-bridge at Bawana Road railway crossing. The metro route from Teeshazari to Rithala should be connected with Bawana and Narela.
SHRI CHANDRA BHUSHAN SINGH : The gauge conversion project of Kanpur-Hathras rail line in my constituency is pending with the ministry for the last 5 years. Farrukhabad is not connected with Lucknow. Gauge conversion of Kanpur-Lucknow line is already completed. My request is if Farrukhabad is connected with this line, the people will be benefited. This work can be completed in first phase itself if allocation of 26 crore rupees for this section is increased to 80 crore rupees. People will be more benefited if Farrukhabad is converted into a model station. There is also a need to set up computerized booking system at Fatehgarh.
As far as the security is concerned, there should be a separate unit for the security of the passengers. I would like to draw your attention to the problem of fracturing of tracks and to avoid this good quality tracks should be laid.
Power generation in Uttar Pradesh has almost come to a standstill. Therefore, Railway should have its own power plants to generate electricity. In the Railway Budget Speech, the hon. Minister stated that he would have his own mineral water plants. But I think, it does not suit his stature. No doubt, there has been improvement in catering. But, the Government should supervise to maintain its quality. No employees are appointed when someone retires at Izzatnagar division. I want the Government to pay attention towards this side also. In the end, I request the Government to take Kanpur-Farukhabad section for gauge conversion.
SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV : I convey my gratitude to the hon. Prime Minister for visiting Assam and starting the work of Boghibheel bridge. I also appreciate the assurance given by the hon. Prime Minister that the Government of India is considering connecting the highway with Myanmar.
After a long time, a Rajdhani Express has been introduced up to Guwahati. If you extend this Rajdhani Express up to Dibrugarh through Dhimapur it would give a very good message to those people who have been out of the national mainstream. The facilities provided by the Railways in the North-East are very poor. In my area, there are 110 tea gardens hardly one or two of them send their tea by rail because they do not get their bookings. The Railway Board should be market-oriented. There are countries where they have collaboration between air transport and the railways. Why does the Railway Board not take a step in this direction? I would like to pass on this particular paper to you consisting of Railway Board Chairman and some members. Here, they have recommended that like in Airlines, you should have Business Class also in the Railways. I want a railway line f rom you but I will not pay for it. This must not be done. One has to contribute. You have got money for the safety and security. This should be properly utilised. I will request you to please make the Ministry of Railways a positive one. Certain areas have certain projects, which may be taken as a national project. Now, disinvestment is happening. Money is coming to the Government. Why not some money comes to the Railways for taking up such projects which have the necessity? Today, if you can build up tunnel in Loktak and on the Konkan Railway, why can you not do it here also? A First Class compartment should be attached to the Rajdhani Express train from Tinsukia to Guwahati via Dimapur. There are some requests about the Railway Division at Badarpur. Another request is about the B.G. line from Katakhal to Bhairabi. Similarly, there is a request for B.G. line from Badarpur to Kumarghat. The Government should look into the matter.
SHRI K. MALAISAMY : I am given to understand that while making the broad gauge conversions nearly 80 per cent has been done in the northern part of the country. Only 30 per cent has been done in Tamil Nadu. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, I am not going to ask anything new. The sanctioned schemes are there. I insist that Rameshwaram is the most important pilgrim centre of the country. You have rightly taken up the conversion from Chennai to Rameshwaram. The section from Tiruchirapalli to Manamadurai and then to Rameshwaram is totally delinked. Similarly, the section from Madurai to Rameshwaram is de-linked. It is a sanctioned scheme. But, much less amount is being released. Do you want to wait for 25 years for the conversion into broad gauge from Tiruchirapalli to Manamadurai or Madurai to Rameshwaram? Your problem is want of resources. As far as I could see, you have got huge extent of railway land which is under encroachment. If you are able to evict these encroachments and if you are able to make cash out of it, you can generate crores of rupees. I submit that this line should be taken up for conversion to broad gauge with all sincerity and priority. Virudunagar-Quilon is another route, which is again an on-going scheme. But the amount that you are allocating every year is only peanuts. The schemes pertaining to Tamil Nadu are all very prized schemes, but unfortunately, resource allocation is not there. It has totally come to a standstill. Please do something about it.
SHRIMATI RENU KUMARI : I congratulate the hon. Minister for presenting a development oriented and balanced budget. Indian Railways is celebrating its 150th year and this year is being celebrated as Passenger Amenities Year. There is proposal to lay 214 Kms. new lines in this budget. There is also proposal of doubling 150 Kms. line at 15 places and provision of food plaza is also included in this budget, which is definitely a welcome step. At present, there is lack of funds in railways and due to this several works cannot be taken up by railways. There is need for a lot of improvement in railways.
Introduction of 35 new trains and 16 Janshatabdi Express Trains is also a welcome step. Modernisation of operation system in railways is necessary. Trains are the only mode of travelling in cities and villages and there is lack of facilities in them. There are many districts in Bihar and Jharkhand where there is no railway line. I request the hon. Minister to provide railway lines there after identifying them. 100 acres of land is lying idle. If this land is given on lease, it will certainly increase the revenue of railways. Due to heavy fog the trains cannot run properly. No mechanism has been invented to deal with this problem. In my parliamentary constituency, Banikpur halt was operating in Naugachia division but it has now been discontinued. In Bhagalpur district also there is need to have Ekchari halt there.
The Rajdhani Express runs every sunday from Guwahati to New Delhi. My request is that it should be run via Patna, Kanpur so that we can be benefited by this. There is a great problem of water logging in Naugachia division. If Sluice gate is provided there, then it will solve the problem of water logging there. Stoppage of Mahananda Express should be provided at Narainpur Station. A stoppage of Danapur-Katihar Express should be provided at Pasrah Station. Work on construction of an over bridge from Maheshkut to Chukti has not been started so far. I request the hon. Minister to look into this matter. Similarly, there is a bridge called Ulta Pul in Bhagalpur district. It collapsed a fortnight ago. I request the hon. Minister to take steps for construction of this bridge. Chirayia Tand bridge is also in bad condition. It is also necessary to get it repaired. Doubling work at Barauni to Katihar has to be taken up besides there is need to provide water, shed and toilets at small stations. Freight rates have been increased due to which the rates of oil, salt and fertilisers have increased. It should be reconsidered so that common people can be benefited.
SHRI M.O.H. FAROOK : I am thankful to the hon. Minister of Railways to come and inaugurate the broad-gauge line between Villupuram and Pondicherry. Regarding Karaikal, last time when I represented to the hon. Minister personally, he had sanctioned Rs. 1 crore for extension. I am just reminding the hon. Minister to kindly do something as far as the extension is concerned, which is pending for a long time. I had expressed my concerns in regard to the sub-standard quality of food being provided in the Tamil Nadu Express. When I represented to the hon. Minister in this regard, he had said that he would look into it. I would request the hon. Minister to concentrate on this aspect of catering also. In fact, my suggestion would be that please do not give it to the Government concerns. Just like Rajdhani Express, please give it to some private contractors.
Another biggest difficulty in both Rajdhani and Tamil Nadu Express trains is that there is no phone connection as of now as far as these two trains are concerned. I would request him to concentrate on this, though it is a very small matter. I am expecting the hon. Minister to connect Nagur and Karaikal.
SHRI ADHIR CHOWDHARY : Many projects were proposed by the former Railway Minister, which have now been disposed by the present Railway Minister. One such project is the railway line between Nashipur and Azimganj.
SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO : Orissa has the lowest railway route per thousand square kilometre of area in the whole of the country. Orissa is not getting due care till today. I want to raise only two points on behalf of people of Orissa. As regards creation of new zones, several zones were created in 1996 and the East Coast Railway Zone was one of them. Some States are served by four or five Zones. Orissa is served only by the South Eastern Railway Zone. But its headquarters is not within the geographical territory of South Eastern Railway. Therefore, the headquarters of South Eastern Railway should be moved to Bhubaneswar.
I would request the Railway Minister to kindly take steps to have the Railway Zonal Headquarters there. He has to make it personal; otherwise Orissa will not get its due share from the Railway Ministry as it has been neglected till today. My next point is about the gauge conversion. Orissa has only two narrow- gauge lines. In the Eighth Five Year Plan not a single kilometre of narrow-gauge line in Orissa has been converted into broad-gauge. Similarly, during the Ninth Plan period again not a single kilometre of narrow-gauge line has been converted into broad-gauge in Orissa.
In 2002-2003, Shri Nitish Kumar has allotted Rs.10 crore for that particular gauge conversion. But we want to know whether this has got the clearance from the CCEA. These two lines need to be converted into broad gauge because it passes through firstly the tribal areas and secondly the mineral areas.
If a railway line is there from Gorumahisani to Tata Nagar, it will be connected from Bangiriposhi to Gorumahisani. Tata Nagar will become nearer to the people of Orissa, if it is done. We know the financial constraint of the Railway Ministry. But we want that whenever the Government are having new lines, they have to spread them in such a way that the backward States will come up at least to the national average. We do not want any favour, but we want justice. Orissa has got only 14.5 kilo metres per 1000 square kilometre area. It has to come up to the national average. It should be done within a time frame. I hope that Shri Nitish Kumar will definitely bring Orissa to the national average level.
DR. RAGHUVANSH PRASAD SINGH : Railway is celebrating 150th year of its inception this year. But this celebration does not hold any meaning for us as the demand to connect Vaishali by rail is being made for the last 100 years. Vaishali is the birth place of Bhagwan Mahavir but it is really pity that it has not been connected with Rail so far. Vaishali is the place where definition of democracy was first propounded. Recently, largest stupa of the world has also been discovered in Kesaria. The hon. Finance Minister in his Budget Speech, had stated to connect all the Buddhist circuits but so far it is elusive. How can a Buddhist circuit can be complete without connecting Vaishali by the Rail line? Therefore, the people of those areas are demanding to connect this Buddhist circuit at the earliest.
Recently, a foundation stone for a bridge on the river Ganges has been laid. I hope that the work on this sector will improve in the days to come. But on way to North Bihar by road, there is a railway crossing called Dighagumti. There is always a long jam whenever a train crosses through that crossing thereby valuable time is wasted. This Digha railway crossing as well as a Gayarahpanthi Railway crossing are very important railway crossings since it lie between main Hazipur and Muzaffarpur line. There is a law which states that for the construction of overbridge, in any State, has to be partly borne by the concerned State Government. But the economic condition of all the States are not the same. Therefore, I request the hon. Minister to construct the overbridge on behalf of his Ministry in the States, which are in dire financial need.
There is a Vaishali Express which runs between New Delhi to Muzaffarpur and is considered an important and a very good train. But there is always a long waiting list for reservation in this train. I request the hon. Minister to introduce a train for North Bihar on the line of Sampooran Kranti Express which goes up to Patna. There is a sugar factory in Motipur in my constituency. This is also a very important place. Therefore, I request the hon. Minister to provide the stoppage of Bandra Express at Motipur. I further request the hon. Minister that he should consider to reschedule the timings of New Delhi Guwahati Rajdhani Express and also to run it all the seven days. Similarly, a Rajdhani Express should also be introduced for the people of North Bihar.
I would like to draw the attention of hon. Minister towards the fact that thousands of labourer from Bihar travels to other parts of the country in search of employment. Since, most of the labourer are illiterate, they are subjected to various kinds of exploitations. The Government should pay attention towards it. Similarly, there are approximately seven lakh porters engaged at various railway stations in India. They mostly belong to weaker sections of the society and hails from dalit families. I request the hon. Minister to provide basic amenities for them at the railway stations and also to provide them the status of class-IV employees. I also request the hon. Minister to done away with the contract system in the railways. Only then the people can get rid of the criminals and mafias. It will also enhance the law and order system in the railways. I further request the hon. Minister to increase the general compartments in all the trains and also do their best to reduce the accident rates in the railways. We will definitely support the hon. Minister if he takes any steps in this regard. In the last, I would like to know from the hon. Minister that when will it be possible to travel from Delhi to Kolkata, Delhi to Chennai, Delhi to Mumbai and Delhi to Hyderabad in 12 hours.
SHRI SURESH RAMRAO JADHAV : The Indian Railways has completed 150 years of its existence. But in Marathwada and Parbhani areas of Maharashtra, not a single foot of new railway track has been laid. If the hon. Minister wants to complete all the major pending projects, he will have to sanction a special railway package for Marathwada. The work of laying of new railway lines is going on at Amravati-Narkher and Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli-Baijnath and also at Puntamba-Shirdi. But adequate funds have not been allocated for these lines. I would like to know by what time these projects will be completed? I request that additional allocation of funds be made available for laying of these railway lines. Similarly, many a gauge conversion projects are lying pending like Miraj-Latur, Mudkherh-Adilabad, Solapur-Gadaj and Secunderabad-Jamkhampet Bodhan. The leaders of our party met Shri Nitish Kumar repeatedly and requested him to get these projects completed as soon as possible. The people have been facing some difficulty due to the passenger fare hike in sleeper class. Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra. Only one train joins this capital city from Marathwada. Many people travel from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in connection with their employment but convenient train facility is not available to them. There is only one train namely Devgiri Express for travelling from Nanjed to Mumbai in which one gets waiting list extending to at least a couple of months. I would therefore, request that another train should be run for Mumbai. I would like to thank the hon. Railway Minister for providing Manvat stoppage at Tapovan without any delay.
SHRI MANIKRAO HODLYA GAVIT : The bridges across the railway lines have become old and dilapidated. Only last year hundreds of people lost their lives in Tamil Nadu due to an accident caused by one of such bridges. Therefore, I would request the hon. Railway Minister to replace these bridges by new ones. Another major reason of train accidents is the old and obsolete tracks. Recently, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express met an accident. A train had got derailed there and there was no traffic on this track for a week. Therefore, there is an urgent need to replace the old tracks. Then, there are many unmanned railway crossings. Five years back, 50 school children died at such a crossing near Pune, where there was no gate-man. I would request the hon. Minister to appoint gate-men at every such level crossing, be it in Maharahstra or Gujarat. I urge upon him to make provision for early completion of all the important railway lines in different States of the country. There are no local fast trains in my constituency, Nandurbar. I would request him to provide for such trains there. I would also like to draw the attention of the hon. Railway Minister through this august House to the Surat-Bhusawal-Udana-Jalgaon section, which is situated in Western Railways where the work of electrification is going on. This route is scheduled to be completed by 2003 but it is being alleged that the funds of this projects are being diverted elsewhere. I have been reassuring the people of my constituency that it is not so. The work of doubling of 306 km. long railway track on Surat-Bhusawal section is still incomplete. Two Ministers of the present Government come from this area. There are 34 railway stations on this section. This railway line passes through the tribal areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat. This is a route which connects Southern Gujarat directly through railway line. I have already raised this issue in the Standing Committee of the Railways and demand that this work be done. The catering facility in the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express is not up to the mark. The catering contract has been awarded to the railway canteen. If this is the condition of catering in a train like Rajdhani, one can imagine the plight of other trains. Passenger trains are run on Surat-Bhusawal line in Northern India. The Mumbai-Delhi line in Western Railways is sometimes closed for traffic in case of excessive floods during the rainy season and all the trains on this route are diverted to the Surat-Bhusawal line. I request the hon. Minister to immediately sanction and also make suitable budgetary provision for doubling of this railway line.
SHRI RAMANAIDU DAGGUBATI : It is high time that the role of the Railways as a major infrastructure provider for the economy is reinforced in the right spirit. The work is going on very slowly at Chirala railway station. I request the hon. Minister to kindly look into the matter. I urge upon the hon. Minister of Railways to ensure that a halt is given to the G.T. Express at Chirala. The work for the over-bridge at Chirala has started long back. I would request the hon. Minister to kindly take up the matter seriously and to ensure finality of the construction of the bridge at the earliest. I have written for improvement to the existing railway culvert no. 622 on Marripudi drain in Vijayawada Division. I would appeal to the hon. Minister of Railways to ensure that the required funds are released for this. The problems like drinking water shortage, lack of cleanliness and poor catering facilities are there which need to be solved and the situation improved. The Railways must find out the root cause of the continuous poor performance of the Railways and effect improvement in its operations. I emphasise upon the need of ensuring punctual running of the trains.
SHRI K.H. MUNIYAPPA: We do hope that the Railway Minister will do something more for the development of Railways. He must give a new thrust to the Railways to complete the on-going projects to fulfil the aspirations of the people. You have to find out a solution to take up gauge conversion work throughout the country. All the lines have to be converted into broad-gauge lines. So far as Yelahanka-Bangalore gauge conversion is concerned, we request the hon. Minister to kindly complete the gauge conversion work on the remaining part also. This is one of the long pending schemes, and I would request you to do something about it. There is a train going from Bangalore to Jwalarpet. Between Jwalarpet and Chennai Road, there are so many trains. Therefore, this train should be shifted and it should operate on Mariakuppam-KGF-Bangarpet-Bangalore route, as it would be more useful. Stretch of 50 kilometers leading up to Jalarpet in the Chennai route should also be completed. Rajdhani Express from Nizamuddin to Bangalore should be made daily. The Elhanka to Bangerpet railway line should also be completed and another stretch of around 40 kilometers should be linked to Madanapalle. The pending work of the Bisanatham railway line should also be completed. I would like to request the hon. Railway Minister that orders for construction of at least 500 railway coaches should be placed with M/s BEML and all the other railway projects that are going on in Karnataka should be completed at the earliest.
SHRI ALI MOHD. NAIK: There is a large scale of movement of army in Kashmir. Whether it is war or any other disturbance in the State, the army movement takes place. The tourism has been the core activity of the State. Lakhs of our Hindu brethren go to pilgrimage in Kashmir. The national highway is the only link to the State. Even this road remains closed for two months at times. We have requested the Central Government several times to construct an alternative route in the State. However, the same has not been constructed for the past 50 years. When Indiraji was the Prime Minister she had ordered to construct rail route between Jammu and Udhampur it is a 60 kilometres stretch. However, it has not been constructed so far. I want to know the reasons for not laying a railway line in a small stretch of 60 kilometeres. Then there was a move to lay rail line from Udhampur to Baramula, but nothing has been done so far. Not a single kilometer of rail line has been laid in the State. The attitude of Centre towards the State shows that it is ignoring the Kashmiris in every sphere. Then there was also a move to construct a railway line from Jammu to Punchh, Rajouri. It was assured that there will be a fresh assessment but nothing has been done. The Central Government has been extending the facilities to those States, which are already enjoying these facilities. These States are having adequate railway facilities. However, there are no roads or railway lines in our State. When this Government can provide special package for North East, then why no package could be announced for Kashmir. The decision was taken for doubling of rail track from Jalandhar to Jammu. However, no work is being done on this line. I want to know when this work will be completed?
I want to urge upon the Government to pay heed to my request. The people of Kashmir need to be taken into confidence by the Government that they are the part and parcel of the country and the Government is interested in their development.
SHRI HARIBHAU SHANKAR MAHALE: I congratulate the hon. Railway Minister for making efforts to take railway on the path of development. I wish to draw the attention of hon. Minister towards the difficulties being faced by the people of my constituency. No new railway line or new train has been given to my constituency. People have been demanding for a halt of Pawan train at Nandgaon railway station for last 15-20 years. I request that it should be provided. Lacel village is a big mandi of Asia. There has been a long pending demand to construct an over-bridge there. I request the hon. Minister to accede to this demand. Vidharbha rail need to be provided with a halt, which would greatly benefit the people.
A major Kumbh fair is to be held at Nasik in 2003. As such the railway station there should be renovated. In past, there was a proposal of a new rail line from Manmad to Malegaon and from Malegaon to Dhulia. The survey work has already been completed. People are demanding a new railway line. There is a long-standing demand to run a Rajdhani train from Mumbai to Delhi. That service should be started.
SHRI SIS RAM OLA: I want to draw the attention of the hon. Railway Minister towards lack of railway amenities in my area, Jhunjhunu. There is a meter gauge line from Delhi to Jaipur via Jhunjhunu. One gets three districts of Rajasthan, i.e. Jhunjhunu, Seekar and Jaipur and four districts of Haryana, i.e. Mahendragarh, Bhiwani, Rewari and Gurgaon totaling seven on this route. In case this line is converted into broad gauge, people belonging to these districts shall be greatly benefited. There is still no broad-gauge rail line from Bikaner to Delhi. This line is very strategic in view of national interest and defence.
Ours is a backward area. When a person comes from Delhi or Kolkata or Kanpur, he has to use firstly broad-gauge and then meter gauge to reach Jhunjhunu. This leads him to a lot of problems. This is not proper. Due to non-availability of broad-gauge line, the pace of development and traffic is very backward. Therefore, the Government are requested to view this issue seriously. The work of conversion of Ajmer to Udaipur via Luharu-Rajgarh meter gauge line should be provided momentum.
SHRI RAMDAS ATHAWALE: There are one or two general compartments in trains and if a single compartment can accommodate 100 persons, about 400-500 persons get into it. I request the hon. Minister to provide at least 7-8 general compartments in all trains. The hon. Minister has allocated Rs.150 crores for Maharashtra. Out of this, Rs.30 crore should be earmarked for Latur-Miraz section. Pandharpur is a pilgrimage. As such more amount is required for Pandharpur. My request is that the Government should think over running new trains from Pandharpur to Bodhgaya, Mumbai, Varanasi and Tirupati. The Shatabdi Express from Mumbai to Pune should be extended upto Sholapur and there should be Shatabdi Express trains from Mumbai to Nagpur and Mumbai to Nander. A local train is needed from Churchgate to Dahanu.
KUNWAR AKHILESH SINGH : Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are reeling under the problem of density of population which has a direct bearing on Indian Railways. If people are found travelling on roof top of the trains then, it can be easily presumed that the trains are coming from Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. We are into the 21st century but still the people of these two States travel in none too satisfactory conditions in the trains. I urge upon the Government to pay special attention towards the trains passing through Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in which labourers and unemployed persons travel to all parts of the country in search of employment. Undoubtedly, Railway is the largest organisation and maximum persons travel by trains. I would like to thank the Government for giving sanction for gauge conversion of Gorakhpur, Anand Nagar, Gonda loop line. I demand construction of new rail line between Farida-Maharajganj-Sisua for connecting the district headquarters of Maharajganj with trains. Lichhvi Express runs between New Delhi and Muzaffarpur. I request adding of AC-I class coaches in this train. I also demand that Rajdhani Express running between New Delhi and Guwahati via Balia twice a week be run two days a week via Lucknow and Gorakhpur for the benefit of the people of the region.
I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister towards the plight of porters and granting of class-IV status to them. Vendors have been appointed on commission basis. I demand regularisation of vendors as class-IV employees. I also demand declaration of a date for starting gauge conversion work of Gorakhpur-Anand Nagar-Nautanva, Gorakhpur-Anand Nagar-Gonda loopline.
SHRI LAKSHMAN SETH : One Express train was introduced in the year 1999 to establish better connectivity between the two cities, Kolkata and Haldia. Haldia is emerging as one of the leading industrial city. I would request the hon. Minister to re-introduce this Express train, which was named as Adar Express, from Howrah to Haldia. I do not know whether Tamluk-Digha railway line would be commissioned this year, because in this years Budget, I have seen, only Rs.20 crore have been allocated, whereas it would require Rs.40 crore for completion. Earlier, Mednipur was the largest district of the country. It has been bifurcated into two districts, Paschim Mednipur and Purab Mednipur. The headquarters of Purva Mednipur is Tamluk. It is very much near to Mechada station. In Mechada station no Express trains stop. So, I would request for stoppage of Coramandal Express, Gitanjali Express, Phalaknam Express, Ispat Express, Steel Express, Bhuvaneshwar Rajdhani Express, Vivekanand Express at Mechada, so that newly created headquarters of Tamluk can have this facility. Millions of railway hawkers are maintaining their livelihood by hawking in the trains in an unauthorised manner. There is no law to hawk in the trains. But due to acute unemployment problem, educated youth have no alternative but to manage their livelihood by hawking in the trains. So, I would request the hon. Minister to arrange to issue identity cards to these people so that they can hawk and maintain their livelihood. What is happening is that they are harassed and put behind the bars by the police.
Last year, there was an allocation of Rs.10 crore for doubling the railway line from Panskura to Haldia. This time, a sum of only one crore rupees has been allocated in the outlay. I do not really know whether the Ministry is determined to complete the work of doubling of Panskura-Haldia line. The South-Eastern Railway is running this Panskura-Haldia line. It is getting, I think, 60 per cent of its revenue from this line from Haldia. Haldia is a very important industrial city. It is connected with Port and Dock. So, I think the hon. Railway Minister should allocate some more funds for doubling this line for the benefit of the Railways and the Haldia area.** SHRI HARPAL SINGH SATHI : The hon. Minister has presented such a budget which has earned praises from all quarters and it has come in the Passengers Amenities Year of the Railways. There is mention of construction and doubling of several new lines, which would benefit the people of India at large.
My Parliamentary Constituency, Haridwar is a world known pilgrimage centre and there is also Kaliyar Sharif Dargah of Sabir Saheb 18 kms. away, which is a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. I demand that a large waiting room be constructed at Haridwar Railway station; three trains may be run regularly from Haridwar to Ujjain, Okha and Ganga Nagar; arrangement may be made for stoppage of Express train running between Haridwar and Amritsar, at every station; the Janashatabdi Express announced by the Railways be run without further delay and a new train may be introduced after laying a direct line from Muzaffarpur to Roorkee.
THE MINISTER OF RAILWAYS (SHRI NITISH KUMAR) replying to the debate, said : I would like to thank all the hon. Members who took part in the second phase of the debate on Rail Budget. Shri Basu Deb Acharia raised the issue of achievement of targets by the Railways. I would like to inform him that in the year 2001-2002, the freight target of 500 million tonne was scaled down to 481 million tonne in the revised estimates. I am happy to inform the House that in the year 2001-2002, the Railways transported more than 492 million tonne freight. The reason for it is the improvement in the economic condition in the second half of the year and secondly, the marketing efforts made by the Railways. Otherwise in the beginning of 2001-2002, we were not hopeful to reach the target of 490 million tonne. This year, the Railways is celebrating its 150th anniversary. On 16th April, 1853, the first train run by steam engine was inaugurated and on this day, in the current year, the Government tried to recreate the incident. Exactly at 3.30, a train run by steam engine started from Mumbai V.T. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal for Thane. Now a demand is being made that the same train should be run at regular intervals in the 150th year. In the 150th year, the Railways plan to not only run the train between Mumbai and Thane, but in other parts of the country too.
The current year has been declared as Passenger Amenities Year and for the same, an amount of Rs.200 crore has been provided. For improving the line capacity, it is necessary to improve the facilities of terminals and yards. In the current year, 16 Janashatabi Trains are proposed to be introduced and the first in this series was successfully run between Mumbai and Madgaon, which received good response and rest of the trains will be introduced by October-November. The Railways are implementing Udhampur-Baramula project in Kashmir and the Government has agreed to separately provide funds for the same by declaring it has national project. The Finance Ministry has agreed to provide Rs.300 crore every year. Many difficulties are being faced in the implementation of the project because of problems regarding acquisition of land. Raghuvanshji mentioned that where will is lacking, the survey is conducted and where there is will, railway line is constructed. The fact remains that during my previous tenure, I created a record of sorts by giving sanction to maximum projects and took them to the CCF for clearance. All the projects are being separately implemented, like the Kashmir project for which Finance Ministry is providing money separately. Regarding gauge conversion or other strategic lines, the matter is being taken up with the Ministry of Defence. Similarly, efforts are being made regarding North-East.
After great deliberations, a formula has been evolved regarding giving 15 per cent weightage to the population of the State and 15 per cent weightage to the geography of the State. In Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, the density of population is highest. The Railways are facing a big problem of transporting goods and people. In the newly created State of Jharkhand, Rs.2000 crore are needed for implementing the projects. The State Government has agreed to provide 2/3rd funds and 1/3rd will be provided by the Railways. With a fund of Rs.2000 crore, 5-6 projects can be implemented. Regarding three projects of Karnataka, the State Government has been requested to provide 2/3rd funds and 1/3rd will be provided by the Railways. This formula is applicable for all the States. Whichever State wants additional assistance, it should provide funds on 2/3 : 1/3 basis. We have done justice to all the States in the matter of allocation of funds. If budgetary support is increased, then allocation for all the States can be enhanced. I am happy that this year budgetary support has been increased due to which allocation for all the States has gone up. We have tried to maintain regional balance. I have instructed the officers of Railway Board to monitor the projects for which funds are made available and continuous contacts must be maintained with the State Government regarding the acquisition of land.
Regarding construction of road overbridge or under-bridge at level crossings with more than one lakh TVO, the railway is prepared to start the work on cost sharing basis. In this regard, a safety funds has been constituted. The Railways get a part of Central Road Fund and also a part of the cess levied on diesel and petrol. The Railways is prepared to provide its portion of funds for the construction of road overbridge and road under-bridge, but the 50 per cent of the funds for approach roads need to be provided by the concerned State Government or the agency i.e. National Highway Authority or the Ministry concerned.
For the benefit of general category passengers, at least four general coaches will be provided in all new mail-express trains proposed to be introduced. In the Budget, I announced the system of unreserved ticketing. This will be totally computerised. The pilot project for the same will be launched on 15th August by the Northern Railways in Delhi. The Government intends to provide all the benefits to poor and weaker section of society. Therefore, the element of subsidy will continue for the general category passengers. As far as the question of creation of new zone is concerned, a sum of Rs. 4 crore has been provided for the creation of East-Coast Zone. The Railways have got a high class of Rail Museum and it has been decided to give it an international look. This will be done in the 150th Anniversary Year. I am also concerned about Guna-Gwalior-Etawah Rail line and I had written a letter to the then Chief Minister of U.P. in this regard. A declaration in this regard was made in the year 2002-2003, but for some reasons it is not going to be taken up. Regarding Etawah and Mainpuri, the work is on.
All the Demands for Grants (Railways) were voted in full.
APPROPRIATION (RAILWAYS) NO.2 BILL, 2002
The Bill was passed.
*The Synopsis of Debates for 17.4.2002, 18.4.2002, 19.4.2002 and 22.4.2002 were not issued as the House had to be adjourned without transacting any business on these days.
** Speech was laid on the Table as per Addendum to Bulletin Part-I No.217 dated 23.4.2002
© 2002 BY LOK SABHA SECRETARIAT
NOTE: It is the verbatim Debates of the Lok Sabha and not the Synopsis that should be considered authoritative.