Millennium Post

‘Dispute settlement system must for private participation in rail’

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday said that he is open to the idea of setting up a dispute redressal mechanism to facilitate the entry of private industry into the sector.

“Private sector wants to come in then they must have a clarity. I think obviously there are going to be disputes. When you marry, no body wants to get divorced but if at all you wanted to, then there must be a system by which you can get divorce. “Therefore a dispute redressal system ... a system whereby you resolve it before you get divorce, Something has to be put in place. I am open for ideas as to how to set up such system, in place,” he said here.

He was replying to questions of industry representatives on rail budget.

He said that for more and more private sector participation in the sector, “we have to move in a way that is doable. Conflict of interest only happen because of policy and implementation being in the same hand...there is a report we are expecting...when it comes in we can act on that.” To drive Indian Railways out of its “troubles”, Prabhu has prescribed market borrowings, public-private partnerships and monetising assets to garner Rs 8.5 lakh crore worth resources over the next five years, even as he ruled out privatisation.

Talking about tax-free bonds, the minister said that the Finance Minister would have to look into the details.

“...I think we have to wait for that. Some sort of debt could be opened...I think, we have to wait for the details,” he said. When asked about organisational changes in the Indian Railways, he said that the ministry has prioritised the matters and accordingly moving in that direction.

“What is important for you, we should not lose sight ... I would rather focus on the end product,” Prabhu added. On financing railway projects, the minister said that the government is working on several avenues for that. “We have a very large amount of money which is committed for us. We will sign MoUs in next 10-15 days,” he said. He also said that IRCTC portal could fetch tremendous value if monetised.

“IRCTC is 100 per cent owned by the Indian Railways. It gets the highest clicks. People use the portal. Close to 13 million people travel by railway everyday, just imagine the potential value of this portal ... if we can actually monetise it properly, not sell it...we can use the intrinsic market value to put more resources back into the business,” he said. 
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