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India Inc happy, says ‘freight rate status quo & 3 new corridors to boost growth’

The Rail Budget 2016, which was presented by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday, got a thumps up from industry. Happy over the decision to not hike freight rate despite financial challenges being faced by the railways, industrialists have dubbed the budget as progressive.

Terming Railway Budget for 2016-17 as “growth-oriented”, India Inc has said that the three new freight corridors envisaged by 2019 will help reduce transportation costs, even as it described the revenue generation target of Rs 1.84 lakh crore as a “strong challenge”.

Hailing Prabhu’s budget, FICCI  president Harshavardhan Neotia said, “It is an extremely pragmatic Rail Budget based on the three critical strategy-pillars, aimed at making railways the backbone of India’s overall development.”

The industry’s body also complimented Prabhu for his initiatives towards improving the quality of customer experience, overcoming challenges and making railways an engine of employment generation and economic growth.

“The rationalisation of freight policy and review of PPP policy framework would help to attract private players for transforming rail transportation and increasing the revenue,” Neotia said.

Adding further, Neotia said, “Initiatives towards developing an integrated railway network, greater emphasis on dedicated freight corridors, and improving port connectivity as well as north-east connectivity would go a long way in expanding the freight business,” adding that measures for improving quality of travel (both unreserved and reserved), cleanliness drive through additional 30,000 bio-toilets, stress on non-fare revenues through station redevelopment and monetising land along tracks, greater participation of state governments in implementation of railway projects are appreciable.

Calling the Rail Budget industry friendly, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) --- another body of industrialists--- said that it gives clear thrust to augment investment. Commenting on budget, CII president Sumit Mazumder said, “The railway budget delineates a bold vision and foresight with a strong focus on investment, job creation, safety and security which would help to move our growth closer to our latent potential.”

“The budget has deftly attempted a harmonious blend of matching commercial objectives with meeting the aspirations of the common man and aimed at enriching consumer experience. This budget has created enormous opportunities and industry would look forward to working closely with the Rail Ministry in ensuring success of a number of the initiatives announced,” Mazumder said.

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has described the Rail Budget a pragmatic one which has well-defined strategies and stresses on modernization, employment generation, freight movement, socio-economic welfare and private participation.

“The employment focus of the budget is highly encouraging as allocation of Rs 8.5 lakh crore to be spent on railways’ modernisation in the next 5 years, which is highly appreciable,” said Mahesh Gupta, the president of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The steps outlined in process improvement, provision of internships, using railways stations for skilling, provision of Wi-Fi, introduction of water recycling at stations, will all help in sustainable and long term growth of the Railways”, said Shriram, the chairman of DCM Shriram.

“The Railway budget 2016 is in line with the government’s vision of achieving holistic growth of the Indian Railways. It is very heartening to note that the government is focused on developing railway infrastructure with renewed vigour and is targeting a capital expenditure of Rs 1.21 lakh crore for FY 16-17, which an increase of 20 per cent year over year,” said JSPL MD Ravi Uppal.

Buoyant with no hike in freight rate, Ambuja Cement’s MD Ajay Kapur said, “Overall, the Railway budget is a good one. This year there was no hike in freight fares which bodes well for the cement and coal industries. The budget displays a positive approach towards tackling issues, a commitment towards quality management and an attempt to make structural changes.”
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