NEW DELHI: Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first full-time female finance minister, delieverd her maiden budget speech today. Amid hits and misses with regard to schemes and taxation, Sitharaman managed to touch upon a wide spectrum of sectors and policies attached to them.
Pre-Budget speculations about the allocation of funds to different departments was a hot topic of discussion for industry experts. As the D-Day draws to a close, we take a look at the top 10 sectoral budgetary allocations, placing them alongside their allocations for the past 5 years. Railways, the highest of the lot, was allocated Rs 3,57,576 crore, 10.51% higher than its allocation in 2018-19 which stood at Rs 3,23,558 crore. Defence came next with an allocation of Rs 305,296 cr, up by 6.9% as compared to last year’s Rs 285,423 crore.
For the financial year 2019-20, capital expenditure for Indian Railways has been pegged at Rs 1,60,176 crore. The amount is 20% higher than that of the previous year. According to Finance Minister, the infrastructure of Indian Railways would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore between 2018-2030. The capital expenditure for 2019-20 has been pegged at Rs 1,60,176 crore, which is 20% higher than the previous year. The minister also proposed the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model for faster development and completion of rail tracks, rolling stock production and delivery of passenger freight services in her Union Budget speech 2019.
Take a look at top 10 things in this year’s Railway Budget 2019:
- Indian Railways will invest more in suburban railway systems through Special Purpose Vehicle structures like RRTS (Rapid Regional Transport System) proposed on the Delhi-Meerut route.
- Complete elimination of unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge network has been achieved in 2018-19. Now, the national transporter is aiming to eliminate all 2,568 manned level crossings, present on Golden quadrilateral and diagonal routes in mission mode by building ROBs/RUBs.
- The electrification of Indian Railways’ broad gauge network will be done by 2021-22. In 2019-20, 7000 route kilometres has been targeted for electrification. Also, for 2019-20, the target of new lines, doubling/tripling, gauge conversion, etc. is 3750 kilometres as against 3596 kms in the last financial year.
- The two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) are targeted to be completed by 2021 in phases. The Rewari-Palanpur section on Western DFC and the Khurja-Bhaupur section on Eastern DFC are targeted for completion this year.
- The Finance Minister claimed that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project is progressing well and is scheduled for completion by the year 2023.
- In a bid to enhance safety, create additional capacity and increase train efficiency, the Railway Budget 2019 also talked about introducing an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system using a mix of European Train Control System as well as an indigenously developed system.
- Indian Railways has launched a massive programme for modernization of railway stations, making railway travel a pleasant and satisfying experience for passengers. The railways has also introduced fully indigenous semi high-speed Train 18 under ‘Make in India’.
- Indian Railways is providing free WiFi at all railway stations (excluding halt stations) in a bid to improve rail travel experience and bridge the digital divide between urban and rural India. So far, the facility has been provided at 1,603 stations and the remaining 4,882 stations are targeted for the provision by 31 August 2019.
- Indian Railways to provide CCTV cameras at all stations (excluding halt stations) as well as in trains to enhance the safety of passengers. So far, CCTV cameras have been provided at 455 railway stations and the balance stations are targeted by 2020-21. Similarly, CCTV cameras have been provided at 1,203 coaches and the rest of the passenger carrying coaches are targeted by 2021-22.
- The Railway Budget 2019 said to launch a scheme of Integrated Skill Development, where all 13 lakh railway employees will be given a foundational training. The programme will focus on 3Cs- Customer, Cost, and Work Culture. The employees who demonstrate high learning agility, as well as greater skill mastery, shall be offered an Advanced Program.