Railway Minister rules out Privatization of Indian Railways

SureshBodrum, Turkey: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has ruled out privatization of the state-run transporter and has said that the government was already taking measures to improve the capabilities of the network.

A government-appointed panel headed by Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy had suggested radical revamp of the state-run behemoth and backed the idea of private sector participation in some areas of the network. It also called for scrapping of the separate railway budget.

Rail unions have rejected the report and have said they will resort to agitation if the recommendations are accepted by the government.

“I don’t know where is the question of privatization. Many of the things that the Bibek Debroy committee report has said we are already implementing it. For example, in my budget speech, I talked about accounting reforms. Then we talked about regulator, it is part of the report. Delegation, which the report has talked, we have already delegated power the day I became minister,” Prabhu told on the sidelines of the G20 Sherpas meeting.

“They are talking about giving autonomy to zones. We signed MoU’s with two zones well before the report,” he said.

Prabhu said the government had not yet examined the report but added that a few things that the Debroy panel had suggested were already being implemented as they were “good practices”.

On the issue of funds for the railways, the minister said there were adequate funds. “Whatever money we need is available to us,” Prabhu said.

The minister has undertaken several measures to revamp the financial health of the railways and raise the level of investment to modernize the network. State-run agencies have pledged funds to revamp the railways while the government has said it is exploring ways to attract funds from global pension funds and other entities to fast track projects.