March 9: Brushing aside Opposition charge that the rail budget has nothing for poor, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said it had “everything for the common man”, as he unveiled a three-pronged strategy including an austerity drive to revitalise railways.
Replying to the debate on rail budget in the Lok Sabha said, the Minister said “the budget has everything for common man…Common man is the centre of the budget.”
The initiatives intended to benefit the common man include e-ticketing, catering on demand, bio-toilets, food for infants, better stations etc, the Minister said.
Moreover, the weaker sections including members of SC and ST would be given preference while awarding contracts for setting up stalls at railway stations.
The Lower House later passed the appropriation bills and the demands for grants in connection with the rail budget for 2016-17, after over a debate that witnessed participation of over 100 members.
Observing that “railways have been going through challenging times…(and) a real crisis accumulated over the years”, Prabhu said his three-pronged strategy was aimed at “significantly” improving the financial health of the railways and make it a “precious asset of the nation”.
The strategy to revive the railways include augmentation of services, generation of more revenue and optimisation of cost.
Elaborating on the strategy, the Minister said he proposed to launch an “austerity drive” to reduce administrative expenses.