Published On: Thu, Mar 30th, 2017

RS debates, returns Railways Appropriation Bills

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday debated and returned to the Lok Sabha the Appropriation (Railways) Bill, 2017 and the Appropriation (Railways) Number 2 Bill, 2017.

Prabhu said that dedicated freight corridor was also being created

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had moved the Bills in the Upper House on March 23.

Replying to the debate in the Rajya Sabha, the Railway Minister said the government has decided to invest more in the railways to improve it.

“We have decided to invest in railways and for that we will have to find money outside the budget,” he told the House.

Expressing concern on the decreasing investment in railways, he said the government was trying to address the issue by generating more funds from all possible sources.

“Finding resource is very important,” he said, adding that the department had borne the “highest burden” of the pay commission.

Prabhu said Indian railways was also losing freight which needs to be fixed.

Addressing other concerns expressed by the members during the debate, the minister said the government was trying to make it more environment-friendly.

“We are trying to bring in the use of solar power and energy efficient technology. We are going for LED lights (at stations and in trains)” he said, adding that the railways have also decided to revive all its water bodies.

“Problems of delays would also be dealt with once we have more investment,” Prabhu added.

The Minister said that for any reform to succeed one should know the problem first, and that is what his ministry was doing to make the railways more efficient and people friendly.

The Minister said digitisation would help the railways a “great deal”.

“Huge benefits will come to the railways from digitisation, he said.

Informing the House about the progress being made in various areas of the Indian Railways, he said that almost 10 kilometre railway tracks were being laid every day.

The minister also informed the House about doubling and electrification of the tracks, saying “We are laying the foundation for tomorrow”.

Prabhu said that dedicated freight corridor was also being created.

Earlier, participating in the debate, former Railway Minister Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress said it was a sad day for the railways as there was derailment of the Jabalpur-Nizamuddin Mahakaushal Express near Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh.

“Like other members, who wanted Railway Minister to be present in the House, I am not even asking for it as I know he would be really busy on such a day,” he said.

During the entire debate, Jairam Ramesh of the Congress kept on asking that if the Railway Minister could not be present as members speak, there should be another cabinet minister.

The Chair then told him that Minister of State for Railways was there recording the concerns of the members.

TKS Elangovan of the DMK expressed apprehension over the railway budget being merged with the general budget saying that in an age where separate funding for various schemes was preferred how the merger of the budgets would help.

Ripun Bora of the Congress raised safety issues and said that measures should be taken to ensure maximum safety and security of the railway users.

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