FICCI Karnataka find rail budget on track

बेंगुलूरू Bangalore (SBC): Business chambers and industry captains in Karnataka Tuesday hailed the NDA government’s maiden Railway Budget and termed its proposals as being on the right track.

“The rail budget, presented by Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda in parliament earlier in the day, is on the right track and holistic in approach, giving priority to safety measures, timely completion of projects, increased financial discipline and passenger amenities,” Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) president S.Sampathraman said in a statement here.

Noting the budget aims at course correction in light of mismanagement, apathy, populism in starting new projects but not completing, and severe fund crunch that has dogged the railways over the years, he said structural reforms and resource mobilisation from its state-run enterprises, foreign direct investment (FDI) and public-private partnership (PPP) will help the ministry in capacity building and expansion of its network.

“Support for projects through PPP as a source of investment capital will provide financial headspace, while transparency in administration and project execution are noteworthy,” Sampathraman pointed out.

Proposal to modernise the rail network, a bullet train on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector and high-speed trains in nine sectors, including Mysore to Chennai via Bangalore will improve connectivity and save time.

“Revamping reservation system, buying e-tickets to enter platforms and travel without reservation through Internet, real-time tracking of trains and rolling stocks and wireless fidelity (WiFi) in select trains and at important stations will benefit passengers, public and ordinary commuters,” he said.

Allocation for setting up a railway university to train its employees in technical and non-technical areas and setting up innovation and incubation centres to generate new ideas will help the railways to keep pace with the emerging technologies in transportation of people and freight.

“The budget has also proposed schemes to facilitate procurement of parcel vans and rakes by private parties and setting up private freight terminals on PPP model to augment its resources,” Sampathraman added.

Lauding Gowda for presenting an operational and practical budget, Bangalore Chambers of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) president A.N. Chandramouli said thrust on improving efficiency, restructuring the railway board and outsourcing cleaning services will bring about a dramatic change in operating passenger and freight trains.

“The rail budget proposals appear to be more operational and practical even in the face of shrinking revenues. Announcements such as launching bullet trains, FDI and PPP are positive steps,” he said.

The chambers welcomed the setting up of a project management group at the board level to minimise delays in project execution. Similarly, project monitoring and coordination group consisting state officials and professionals will expedite projects.

The chamber also commended Gowda for proposing to use enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to synergise operations, make the railways a paperless office in the next five years and extend computerised parcel management system and logistics support to e-commerce firms through pick-up centres at identified stations.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA) thanked Gowda for announcing a new line from Mysore to Madikeri and completing the survey from Mysore to Kushalnagar in the state’s southern region.