Indian Railways Minister refuses to comment on fare hike

STORY: In the wake of media reports, India’s Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal refused to comment on immediate hike in passengers fare.

Speaking to the mediapersons at Chandigarh in northern India on Sunday (February 10), he said it would be immature to say anything prior to the presentation of budget in the parliament.

A section of media reported that minister is likely to further increase the passengers’ fare in upcoming budget, as the government has allowed the state-run companies to enhance diesel price to recover their losses.

“There is responsibility on me. I can’t comment about it before the budget. We will improve the facilities irrespective of the situation,” said Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Last month, the federal government hiked the railway fares after almost a decade to rejuvenate the cash-strapped rail system.

Promising to oppose the move, the Communist Party of India (CPI) termed this as a big blow to the commoners.

Federal lawmaker and General Secretary of CPI, D Raja shared these views in New Delhi.

“Now, the ministry is giving all indications that it would go for further hike in the railway fares. It is really going to be big blow to common people and we will oppose this. We will demand that government should withdraw this hike in railway fare as well as on diesel,” D Raja.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) asked the government to cut tax benefits to rich people, as fiscal deficit is less the total tax benefits given to them, and spare the poor people.

Politburo member and federal lawmaker Sitaram Yechury was speaking to the mediapersons at Agartala in northeastern state of Tripura.

“The fiscal deficit is less the total tax benefits given. Don’t give subsidy to rich people; spare the poor. We will raise this issue in parliament. The strategy of the government to take such decisions before the budget and present pro-people budget but this double standard will not work,” said Sitaram Yechury.

Clogged freight lines, slow delivery times and overcrowded ports have dented many companies’ competitiveness and slowed the pace at which crucial commodities such as coal are transported, aggravating India’s power shortages.