Of the 674 projects, worth Rs1.58 lakh crore, sanctioned in the last 30 years, only 317 are completed by the railways. Due to the delays, the cost of remaining project has gone up to Rs1.82 lakh crore
Presenting his maiden budget, railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda said populist projects and mismanagement over the past several years have brought Railways to a point of funds crunch. He said, there was a 'decade of golden dilemma' for choosing between commercial and social viability that had left the railways with hardly any adequate resources for development.
"(the) Focus so far (was) in sanctioning more and more projects with inadequate prioritization rather than completing them. Of the 674 projects worth Rs1.58 lakh crore sanctioned in the last 30 years, only 317 could be completed and there is a need of Rs1.82 lakh crore to complete remaining projects," the minister said while presenting the rail budget in Lok Sabha.
Highlighting the challenges, Gowda said, the Railways is expected to earn like a commercial enterprise, but serve like a welfare organisation. "About 94 paise from every rupee earned is spent by Railways, thus leaving just six paise for development work. Gross traffic receipts (GTR) during 2013-14 was Rs1.39 lakh crore while total working expenses were Rs1.3 lakh crore which translates into an operating ratio of 94%," he said.
The railways spends most of gross traffic receipts on fuel, salary and pension, track and coach maintenance and on safety works.
According to Gowda, the railways carry social service obligation of more than Rs20,000 crore by carrying services below cost. This is nearly 16.6%of GTR and is almost half of Railways’ plan outlay under budgetary sources, he said.
Blaming the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the fund crunch faced by railways, the minister said, the tariff policy (adopted by UPA govt) lacked rational approach. He said, "Over the last ten years, passenger were fares kept lower than costs. The loss per passenger kilometre increased to 23 paise per km in 2012-13 from 10 paise per km in 2000-01."
Even the share of railways revenues from freight operations is coming down consistently over the past decade, he added.
According to NCRB data, Maharastra and Mumbai are at the top on crime list for 2013. To meet those chalenges, the state needed better policing, however, what Maharashtra has done is to bring a Bill that formalises the very practices of unwarranted political interference, say activists
At a time, when the state government is trying to push a Bill on police reforms, Maharashtra and particularly Mumbai, has emerged at the top in the crime chart during 2013. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Maharashtra has the highest number of custodial deaths, railway crimes and crimes against women, while Mumbai ranks as the second most unsafe city for women and minors.
The latest crime figures released by the NCRB have Mumbai and Maharashtra at the top for 2013:
• Highest number of custodial deaths in Maharashtra
• Mumbai ranks second in crimes against minors, while Maharashtra has most minors who run afoul of the law
• Highest number of railways crimes in Maharashtra
• Highest number of crimes against women in Maharashtra
• Mumbai is the second most unsafe city in India for women.
To meet these challenges, citizens and activists feel that the state’s response must be better policing – policing which is unbiased, responsive and lawful. However, what the state government has done is pass the Maharashtra Police (Amendment) Act (MPA), 2014, without any public consultation or discussion.
Police Reforms Watch Mumbai and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) have termed the Bill as a 'fraud on the people and the process of police reform'. The objective of the Bill is to amend the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951 to incorporate six directives on police reform laid down by the Supreme Court in 2006. But every directive has been systematically diluted or subverted in the Bill which formalizes excessive political interference in the day to day management of the police, the NGOs said.
Maja Daruwala, director of CHRI, says, “Police reform in the public interest cannot happen in isolation or haste. Maharashtra is in serious need of police reform, but reform which is done in consultation with both the police and the public.The process of drafting a new law must be given the widest publicity. It is our hope the Governor returns the Bill to the legislature and it is then referred to a Select Committee that can facilitate a consultation process”.
“While the blame for this Bill lies with the ruling party dispensation of Congress and NCP, we fail to understand why the Opposition did not put up a spirited fight against such an obnoxious Bill. While the State and the City President of the BJP, including the Leader of the Opposition did raise some objections, they failed to build pressure to defeat the Bill’s passage or have it referred to a Select Committee,” says Dolphy D’ Souza, Convenor of Police Reforms Watch Mumbai.
A citizen’s campaign led by PRW and CHRI has been launched to urge the Governor to invoke his powers under Article 200 of the Constitution of India, to withhold his assent to the Bill and send it back to the State Legislature for reconsideration, and send recommended changes for both Houses to consider. We appeal to the people of the state to support our campaign for better policing for a safer Maharashtra.
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