Indian Railways on a Ruinous Path

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Indian Railways on a Ruinous Path

The CPI (M) considers the Railway Budget presented in parliament today as a fraudulent exercise aimed at window dressing the pathetic state of Railway finances and announcing sundry projects, which will never take off the ground. The Railways is actually facing a financial crisis. There is no increase in freight earnings this year despite the GDP growing at over 8%. The safety record is abysmal with a spate of accidents leading to deaths of over two hundred people in the past one year. Passenger amenities like food and cleanliness have deteriorated sharply, with punctuality hitting a new low.

The operating ratio of 92.1 mentioned in the Budget for 2010-11 is not a credible estimate and conceals the much higher actual operating ratio. This has been done by playing with the figures. The freight loading target this year had to be lowered by the Railway Ministry by 20 million tons (as admitted by the Railway Minister in her speech), which exposes the inefficiency of Railway operations. Despite this, the freight earnings have been retained at the same level of last year in the Budget. This results in a higher level of traffic receipts than what will actually accrue. Moreover, dividend liability committed for the year 2010-11 fell short by Rs. 1700 crore. All this has been done to artificially inflate the operating ratio, raising questions about the credibility of the entire accounting process.

The Budget claims an increase in the annual Plan Outlay to Rs. 57630 crore in 2011-12 from Rs. 40314.93 spent in 2010-11. It is noteworthy, that bulk of this is to be financed through increased funds from the union budget (Gross Budgetary Support) totaling Rs. 20000 crore (up from Rs. 15800 crore last year) and market borrowings of Rs. 20500 crore by the IRFC (up from Rs. 10100 crore last year). On the other hand, investment from Railways internal resources are budgeted to go down by Rs. 300 crore compared to last year. This clearly shows that Railways own resources are going to deteriorate further even as it draws more resources from the general budget and increase its indebtedness, ruining its financial health further in the long-term.

The Railway Budget of 2010 had announced numerous projects, from world class stations, to railway coach and loco factories, wagon and axle units, power plants, auto hubs, sports complexes, hospitals and so on. It is clear from Budget 2011, that these announcements were mere gimmicks which have either been recycled this year or conveniently forgotten. Announcements of projects without any specific plan outlay or time schedule amounts to a farce. Railway Budget 2011 is replete with such farcical announcements at the cost of the credibility of an institution like the Indian Railways. The 6 high speed passenger corridors announced in 2010 Budget and forgotten this year is a prime example.

The cavalier manner in which the Railway Minister has claimed an improved performance in railway safety through statistical jugglery, despite the death of 216 persons in railway accidents over the past one year, reflects her lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people. Her promise to install anti-collision devices (ACDs) in three railway zones in 2009 Budget is yet to be realised. And yet she has promised to extend the ACDs to another 4 railway zones. There is no mention of the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) in this Budget, whose implementation was promised last year!

Rather than explaining her inaction in the filling of 1.75 lakh Group C and D posts in railways and 13000 posts in RPF, which have been lying vacant for the past many years, the Railway minister has made another empty promise. In fact, total employee strength of the Indian Railways has come down by 24600 from March 2009 to March 2010, totaling 1361519 as per the Indian Railways Annual report 2009-10 (not 14 lakhs as repeatedly claimed by the Railway Minister).

It is clear that under the stewardship of the Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, Indian Railways is on a ruinous path. Is the Prime Minister allowing this to happen due to "compulsions of coalition politics"?

Marxistindia Digest

1. On S Band Spectrum Scam (news from the cpi(m))

February 11, 2011

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

On The S-band Spectrum Scam

The Business Line-Hindu newspapers have exposed the S-band spectrum deal involving the ISRO Company Antrix and a private company, Devas Multimedia. By this agreement, the private company was to get access to high quality spectrum of 70 MHz through the launching of two custom-made satellites. The presumptive loss of revenue to the government would have been atleast Rs. 2 lakh crores.

Faced with this exposure, the UPA government has resorted to the now familiar pattern when confronted with largescale scams and corruption. It has sought to underplay the extent of wrongdoing, claim that the agreement has not been implemented and obfuscate the issues involved.

A number of questions remain unanswered in this affair which falls under the purview of the Department of Space, which is directly under the Prime Minister. How is it that the Cabinet gave clearance for launching the first satellite in December 2005 which is meant solely for the purpose of the private company? Why the agreement was not cancelled when the contract was found to be inappropriate and the Space Commission wanted it annulled in July 2010? Why is it that the government did not act even after the Additional Solicitor General had recommended that the termination of the agreement be a Government decision?

The latest decision by the Prime Minister to constitute a two-member committee to "review" the agreement is highly questionable. What is the necessity for a "review" when already the contract has been found to be unjustified and needs to be annulled? The persons appointed – a former Cabinet Secretary and a member of the Space Commission -were both involved in the processing of the deal. The intention seems to be to keep this as an in-house matter.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) demands an independent time-bound high-level enquiry by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

There are media reports of the obstructions faced by the Comptroller and Auditor General in examining the contract. The CAG should be able to examine fully all the relevant papers regarding the agreement.

The people of the country will not be satisfied till all the facts about this dubious deal are uncovered and the guilty brought to book.

T.R.U.E – F.R.I.E.N.D.S …!!

T.R.U.E – F.R.I.E.N.D.S

A story tells that two friends

were walking

through the desert

During some point of the

Journey they had an

Argument, and one friend

Slapped the other one

In the face.

The one who got slapped

was hurt, but without

saying anything,

wrote in the sand:

TODAY MY BEST FRIEND

SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE .

They kept on walking

until they found an oasis,

where they decided

to take a bath.

The one who had been

slapped got stuck in the

mire and started drowning,

but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from

the near drowning,

he wrote on a stone:

TODAY MY BEST FRIEND

SAVED MY LIFE.

The friend who had slapped

and saved his best friend

asked him, "After I hurt you,

you wrote in the sand and now,

you write on a stone, why?"

The other friend replied

"When someone hurts us

we should write it down

in sand where winds of

forgiveness can erase it away.

But, when someone does

something good for us,

we must engrave it in stone

where no wind

can ever erase it."


LEARN TO WRITE

YOUR HURTS IN

THE SAND AND TO

CARVE YOUR

BENEFITS IN STONE!!!

They say it takes a

minute to find a special

person, an hour to

appreciate them, a day

to love them, but then

an entire life

to forget them.

Send this phrase to

the people you’ll never

forget. If you don’t

send it to anyone,

it means you’re in a

hurry and that you’ve

forgotten your friends.

Take the time to live!

Do not value the THINGS

you have in your life. But value

WHO you have in your life!

Elephants

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Click here to support elephants and forests.

Dear all,

The dangerous forest versus coal tussle has claimed its first victim – the endangered Indian elephant. The Chhattisgarh government has scrapped plans for an elephant reserve in order to allow the same forests to be mined for coal. [1]

Last year the environment and forest ministry defined regions rich in forest cover and biodiversity as No-Go areas for mining. The coal ministry wants the government to scrap this classification. A Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to resolve this will take a decision later in the year. [2]

These No-Go areas are among the last remaining forests in our country. They are home to wildlife such as tigers, leopards and elephants, and crucial to the livelihoods of millions. If mining is allowed here, we can bid good bye to all of these. We need to pick our sides for this epic match. Big ministries backed by private lobbies are siding with coal – and against the forests.

Can you show your support for the elephants and our forests?

http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/What-We-Do/Stop-Climate-Change/Quit-Coal/support-the-forests/

This is the first preparatory step for our massive fight to save our forests and the communities who depend on them. The government needs to know that millions of Indians want their forests protected and declared No-Go for mining.

Instead of increasing its dependence on coal the government needs to invest in exploring renewable energy options. Once destroyed, these forests will never get resurrected even with the best reforestation efforts.

Clearing forests will only hasten climate change. Coal mining not only destroys forests and displaces communities but also contaminates nearby rivers and water sources. India’s remaining forests and wildlife and communities must be protected from mining.

Show your support for the elephants and their forests now.

http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/What-We-Do/Stop-Climate-Change/Quit-Coal/support-the-forests/

Thanks a billion!

Photo of Preethi Herman
Preethi Herman
Climate Campaigner
Greenpeace India