Railway Budget-2015 leaves Kashmir business community disappointed

Srinagar: The Railway budget 2015-16 has disappointed Kashmir-based business community as their demand for railway coach factory in Jammu and Kashmir has not been met.

President Federation Chamber of Industry Kashmir (FCIK), Muhammad Ashraf Mir said as usual there is nothing for Kashmir in the railway budget.

“Our long pending demand for a rail coach factory in Jammu and Kashmir has once again been rejected. The budget has not even provided anything for extending the rail network to Kashmir,” Mir said, adding that they were hopeful that the budget will provide for extension of railway network to Kashmir.

Pertinently, former chief minister, Omar Abdullah had last year demanded setting up of a rail coach factory in Jammu and Kashmir, which according to him would provide much-needed help in overcoming industrial backwardness and economic shortcomings in the state.

“Our neighboring state (Punjab) has been given rail coach factory but we are being discriminated,” Mir said.

FCIK while commenting on the budget presented by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, stated that hike in freight would shoot up prices of commodities in the market.

“Prices of cement, coal, steel and urea are likely to go up with the Railways Minister proposing freight hike up to 10 per cent for various commodities,” Mir said.

To mention, the Railway budget proposals presented today in the Parliament proposed hike in freight rates for 12 commodities in the range of 0.8 per cent to 10 per cent.

The proposed hike for cement, coal, iron and steel, grains and pulses, urea, groundnut oil, LPG and kerosene is 2.7 per cent, 6.3 per cent, 0.8 per cent, 10 per cent, 10 per cent, 2.1 per cent, 0.8 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively.

Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yaseen Khan said that leaving fares unchanged is a welcome decision. “But there is nothing for Jammu and Kashmir, even the enhancement of railway network has been put on backburner by the current BJP-led government.”

“As usual Kashmir has been left out. Our demand for increase in the number of trains to Jammu from other states has been turned down.”

The shortage of direct trains to Jammu during peak tourism season will continue affect “our economy and our tourism sector suffers.”

Khan said that Kashmir’s tourism sector had always been neglected by the central government and today’s railway budget proved it again.

Meanwhile, the tourism players said the railway budget has totally ignored Kashmir. “We had high expectations with the railway budget hoping it would contain proposals as would give some boost to the tourism sector in J&K, but we are disappointed.”

“Our main demand was that number of trains from other states to Jammu should be increased so as more and more tourists could come to the state. But it seems that our demand to railway ministry has fallen on deaf ears,” they said.