The Indian Railways has proposed tariff hikes of 14.2% and 6.5% in passenger fares and freight charges respectively effective from today itself. The hike was actually proposed by the last UPA government on the 16th of May, the elections results day. But the move face stiff criticism from all sectors, prompting the then Railway minister Mallikarjuna Kharge to suspend the hike and leave the decision to the next coming government.
Present Railway minister Sadananda Gowda indicated the move on Tuesday itself, when he spoke to the media after meeting with the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to discuss the budget allocation to the Railways ahead of the general budget next month. Gowda has been assured an allotment of Rs. 29,000 crores as Gross Budget Support from the finance minister. But the Railways has been holding on projects worth rupees 1.5 lakh crores. It is looking at various ways to raise funds for these projects.
“Innovative methods to raise additional funds by permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or by taking to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route and through the floating of bonds are being considered. After the drift of the past several years, the Railways need to be infused with a new dynamism now”, said Minister Gowda recently. He has also said that the fare hike issue is on cards and awaiting the nod of the PM. “I will discuss the fare issue with the PM. A decision will be taken after the discussion,” he said.
As per the indications, the May hike of tariff plan has now been fully implemented. The ministry plans to use the additional funds generated through fare hike and other means to be proposed to add rail lengths in Jammu & Kashmir, North East mainly.