by R. Elangovan, Vice President, Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU)
Without investment by government the infrastructure will be at great risk and cannot meet the future demand. For example, railways carry 1162 million tonne kilometre now. NRP says we will have to carry 6885 million tonnes by 2051. Privatisation cannot increase speed. Privatisation will be a peril. No Vikas, Only Vinas.
1. According to NMP investors do not want to take risks to invest in green field infrastructure. NMP proposes to open existing green field infrastructure for lease to private sector and the money earned will be invested in green field to complete the National Infrastructure pipeline (NIP) projects of Rs111 lakh crores, to be completed during 2019-20 and 2024-25. The mobilisation through brown field will be 5.54% of 111 lakh crore, i.e, Rs. 6 lakh crores. How the balance 105 lakh crore rupees will be mobilised is a million dollar question.
2. According to NIP an investment of Rs 13.69 lakh crores will be invested of which 87%, i.e., Rs. 11.90 lakh crores will be general budgetary support as private sector will not come, which is Rs 11.90 lakh crores. Up to 2021-22 only 29% was budget support. The NMP proposes Rs 1.52 lakh crore from brownfield leasing which is only 10% of Rs.13.69 lakh crores. How the balance will be mobilised is a million dollar question. Even in this, out of Rs. 1.52 lakh crores 50% i.e., Rs. 76,000 crores is from private leasing of 400 stations redevelopment. Railway Minister, in a reply recently, replied that “at present it is difficult to estimate revenue from redevelopment activities”. Rs 18,000 crores has to come from privatisation of 90 trains. As per another reply, the tender for 151 trains has been cancelled as private sector does not want to share revenues. The NMP proposes privatisation of 90 trains. This figure has been arrived at 60% of 150 trains. As a result, money from monetisation in the four years planned is uncertain. If Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) are opened, they will earn profit. According to the finance minister, in the budget, DFC will be monetised once it is operational.
3.The casualty is the investment in infrastructure. It is BAU – BUSINESS AS USUAL. The BJP government wound up the Planning Commission and pre-closed 12th plan. It abandoned 20 year plan of UPA to invest Rs. 35.30 lakh crores during 2012-32. It announced its own five year plan of Rs. 8.56 lakh crores for the period 2015-16 to 2019-20. The investment target was not met. Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 50 lakh crores plan for 12 years, 2018-2030 in the budget 2020-21. Abandoning this, they announced NIP for the period 2019-20 to 2024-25 and abandoned it also midway and announced NRP, i.e., National Rail Plan in 2021-22 budget for 30 years 2021 to 2051 to invest Rs 38.5 lakh crores. Thus, they are changing the goals.
4. In the national transport of goods, railways’ share has come down from 84% to 28%. Share of passenger traffic has come down to 12% from 79% between 1950 and now. The average speed of goods trains remains 25 kmph and of passenger trains 50 kmph. 55% of traffic runs on 20% of network and routes are congested with 100 to 150% occupation. Doubling, quadrupling, dedicated freight corridors, high speed dedicated lines for passengers and expansion of network to meet future demand are the requirements. Renewal of assets are overdue; need Rs. 1.14 lakh crore as per CAG, failing which safety will be affected badly.
5. All the plans propose increasing railway share of goods to 45%, speed of goods trains to 50 kmph and of passenger trains to 80 – 160 kmph. The targets remain unattained due to lack of investment and non-compliance of plan targets. As private sector has no appetite to invest in railways, the government should invest in the national interest, otherwise there will not be fast, safe trains at affordable cost
6. Apart from proposal for privatisation of CONCOR, the NMP proposed privatisation of 500 passenger trains, 151 to start with, 30%of goods trains to private sector and 90 stations to private sector before 2025. The NRP has proposed 100% of goods trains and all profit-making passenger trains to private sector by 2031.THE FARE AND FREIGHT WILL BECOME UNAFFORDABLE.
7. Without investment by government the infrastructure will be at great risk and cannot meet the future demand. For example, railways carry 1162 million tonne kilometre now. NRP says we will have to carry 6885 million tonnes by 2051. Privatisation cannot increase speed. Privatisation will be a peril.
NO VIKAS ONLY VINAS.