Railway Minister on Privatisation
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced in the Rajya Sabha that Railways are trying to rope in private players to utilise its assets. "Railways are not being privatised", Ms. Banerjee reiterated. The Minister said the Railways were reeling under the impact of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, and the increase in the price of high-speed diesel and excise duties.
The Railways had to pay Rs.55,000 crore to its 14 lakh-plus employees, and another Rs.20,000 crore in pension and salary. The rise in the diesel price and excise duties dented the revenue by Rs. 885 crore.
Ms. Banerjee urged the members to urge the State governments to invest in infrastructure development. The Railways were encouraging public-private partnership by offering a share to those willing to invest in its land.
“There is no privatisation, but we need funds to develop infrastructure and new lines, while the assets remain with us,” she said. Now the Railways needed Rs. 1 lakh crore for the pending projects against the current spending of Rs.11,000 crore.
Earlier in Lok Sabha she had ruled out privatisation of Railways and sought to make it clear that her department only wanted the private industrial houses to make use of its vast land for building infrastructure.
As for recruitment, she said the process had begun. The Railways decided to reserve 20 per cent of the posts of gangmen for ex-servicemen.