Kolkata: Union minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said trains in India still ran behind schedule because previous governments committed resources for political gains instead of investing them to improve the efficiency of the railways.
Addressing the media, the minister for railways said governments before 2014 did not invest in “upgrading infrastructure".
They kept making “political announcements" without providing capital for the promised projects, according to Goyal, who also holds charge of various other ministries including finance and coal. As a result, projects did not get implemented on time, and the “entire network got overloaded". “Sadly, some sections are running at 150% capacity, some at 180% capacity," said Goyal.
The railway infrastructure that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government inherited in 2014 was fraught with unfinished projects and “disorderly development", he added.
Goyal became the Union railway minister in September last year, replacing Suresh Prabhu, who is currently Union minister for commerce and industry.
Speaking about stalled Metro rail projects in Kolkata and its suburbs, Goyal said delays in land acquisition were the key problem. He said the implementing agencies are constantly in touch with the state government to find solution to the problem, which is hobbling timely progress.
Speaking earlier at the Indian Chamber of Commerce, a lobby group, Goyal said he was encouraging banks to come up with a long-term infrastructure development bond. At a meeting on Saturday with a “senior official of one of the largest banks", the minister said he had suggested that the lender comes up with a fixed-coupon bond of “say 25 years".
“Today, people are not able to park their money for the long term in good assets," said Goyal. Such an instrument would help infrastructure projects “plan their cash flows better". He said it was a “thought" that he had discussed with lenders and asked to be explored.