People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVI

No. 12

March 13, 2012

 

 

RAILWAY BUDGET

 

Dangerous Intent Behind Rhetoric

 

THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi on March 14, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) said the rail budget for the year 2012-13 came as a big disappointment to the disabled. Except for an announcement of disabled friendly coaches, for the introduction of which no time frame has been set, there was nothing in it to cheer about as far as disabled travellers are concerned.

 

While the minister claimed that 80,000 vacancies have been filled in the railways, the fact remains that the backlog of vacancies against the quota for the disabled still remains. Only two days back, the Delhi High Court had passed an order asking the Railways to fill the backlog of over 4100 vacancies (as of 2005) reserved for the disabled.

 

As far as passenger amenities are concerned, extension of the E booking facility for the disabled has been one of the key demands of the sector. There is no logic whatsoever to deny this facility to the disabled persons who more than anyone else require this facility.

 

It is also disappointing that the minister has not conceded the demand to extend concessions for the disabled on local trains while they are provided the same on long distance trains. Also, though people with mental illness are included in the PwD Act, they are not provided concessions in the railways. These issues too, apart many others concerning accessibility etc, have not been addressed to in the rail budget.

 

In its statement on the same day, the central executive committee (CEC) of the Democratic Youth Federation India (DYFI) said the lakhs of vacancies existing in railways at various levels is an issue directly linked with other important issues and concerns like safety, better facilities etc. Though the railway minister 80,000 fresh recruitments were made in 2011, the claim cannot be verified as the current employment figures are not given.  In absence of a concrete plan for creating opportunities for employment generation in the Indian Railways, the announcement for recruiting one lakh persons in 2012-13 is devoid of any credibility.

 

Having taken note of various other aspects of the rail budget, the DYFI CEC asked all its units to organise protests against this anti-youth anti-people rail budget, demanding a rollback of the fare hikes and creation of employment opportunities.

 

Taking strong exception to the announcement of introducing a fuel adjustment component, the CITU secretariat on the same day said it revealed the hidden agenda of a programme of  perpetual and deregulated fare hike outside the budget. If this move is read with the budgetary intent of setting up an independent tariff regulatory authority, the ultimate objective of making passenger fares and freights subject to market volatility can in no way be concealed through empty rhetoric..    

 

Pointing out that the rail budget documents showed a gradual reduction in the staff strength of the Railways from 13.66 lakh in March 2010 to 13.28 lakh in March 2011, the CITU said the ministerís assertion regarding fresh recruitment of 80,000 persons in 2011-12 appeared to be another false claim, in tune with the empty assurances made by his predecessor. The CITU has urged the working class to stage protests against this anti-people rail budget which is dangerous in its intent and content, notwithstanding its empty rhetoric.