New Delhi: The Rail budget will be presented in the first week of July and a balance between the “commercial and human face” of the railways will be maintained, railway minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday.
“Railways has two sides — commercial and human face. We have to maintain both the sides,” Banerjee said after attending her first day at the Rail Bhawan here.
She also hinted that she would spend more time in her home state than in Delhi as the official work can also be carried out from West Bengal.
“One can still work from the state”, Banerjee said when asked whether she would spend more time in the state than in Delhi.
She said passenger amenities, safety and security will be her priorities though the railway will give equal focus on the earning side.
Mentioning her monthly pass scheme for poor people, she said “those who do not have enough income to travel in train, the pass scheme is meant for them. I have tried to give them economic freedom to travel in train.”
She said “railways is for everybody. It is for the industry. It is for the common man and it is also for the marginalised section of the society.”
About the budget, Banerjee said “I am taking stock of the situation. I will be meeting railway officials including GMs, DRMs and also board members to know the position.”
Asked to comment on her predecessor Lalu Prasad Yadav’s claim of railways having a surplus of Rs90,000 crore in the last five years, she said “I have full respect for Laluji and I would not comment on railway’s prevailing financial condition without going into details.”
Referring to the sixth pay commission implementation, she said railways has to bear the burden of paying Rs14,000 crore to its employees and it has to be met through internal resources.
Recalling her first term in the railway ministry, she said the computerisation programme, upgradation of passenger services and model stations were all started during her tenure.
All this along with infrastructure development would continue, she said and added “I know what to do as I have worked here earlier”.
Referring to economic slowdown, Banerjee said “we have to strive for improvement in our earnings”.
About the post-cyclone situation in West Bengal, she said she met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday and discussed with him relief and rehaibilitation in affected areas.
“The situation is very grave. People are still without food and there is a severe shortage of potable water,” she said.
Lauding the army’s role in rescue and relief operations, the Trinamool leader said our “defence people are doing a good job in the affected areas.”
However, there is a need for more relief in the three affected districts of the state.