New Delhi: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday said that the Narendra Modi government’s decision to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget is a decision taken unilaterally and was against the larger public interest.
“The decision by the Union Cabinet to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget is a unilateral step without discussion in Parliament. It was Parliament which was empowered to discuss railway finances and development,” the CPI-M said in a statement.
It said that the abolition of a separate Railway Budget is not what it is “purported to be”, but a measure that would encourage “commercialisation and privatisation” of the Indian Railways.
“The Indian Railways is the largest public transportation system in the country which caters to millions of ordinary people. This public service carrier cannot be seen purely on commercial lines,” the CPI-M said.
It said that the Railway Budget presented in Parliament provided the “opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny and approval” of its finances, expenditure and a debate on its plans for expansion, which “will now be curtailed” with its abolition.
“The move to merge the Railway Budget and Union Budget is in tune with the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy Committee which has set out a blueprint for the commercialisation and privatisation of the Indian Railways.
“For the people what this portends is a steep rise in railway fares and a growing divide towards elite services and poor facilities for the ordinary passengers,” the CPI-M added.