As was expected, Mamata Banerjee delivered a populist budget which seemed aimed towards helping her win the West Bengal elections 2011 rather than helping the common man.
While a good railway budget with no fare increase is a dream we all see, Mamata should have taken into consideration the fact that Indian railways financial coffers are now almost empty. Unless she devices of a brilliant plan to get the money flowing back, we all will suffer in the long run. Consider some for her decision:
1. This was the third successive year that Mamata Banerjee decided against increasing the passenger fares.
2. She also decided that hike in fright rates was also not needed.
3. To appease the voters further, she has given a slew of discounts. Senior women citizen discount can now be availed from 58 years of age instead of 60. For men above the age of 60, train fare concession has been increased from 30 to 40 per cent!
4. 56 new trains have been launched. But still the budget smelled more like a Bengal Railways budget instead of Indian railways budget. Mamata has announced a metro coach factory in Singur, Rail Industrial Park in Jelligham, an integrated suburban network for Kolkata and 34 new services for the Kolkata metro!!!
5. We do approve and appreciate her for extending the concession for physically challenged and Kirti and Shaurya Chakra awardees to Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains as well.
Overall, the budget has been made to help her win the Bengal polls. Although while you plan your India holidays 2011, you may not have to think of spending more for your train fares, but in the long run we feel her budget will hurt the railways more.