Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stated on Wednesday that the government has no intentions to privatise Indian Railways and that opposition parties’ claims in this respect are speculative.
In response to a discussion in Lok Sabha on the railway ministry’s grant demands for 2022-23, the minister further stated that the railways had handled the recent “misunderstanding” about recruitment in a compassionate manner.
With a voice vote, the Lok Sabha later accepted the railway grant demands.
Several MPs accused the administration of attempting to privatise the railways throughout the debate.
Mr Vaishnaw also stated that there were no plans to privatise freight lanes.
The Railways would continue to fulfil social commitments, he added, adding that a Rs 60,000 crore subsidy on passenger tickets is offered.
He went on to say that if the social duty is removed, the Indian Railways’ operating ratio – a critical metric used to assess an entity’s performance – will be around 85%. However, it is now a bit less than 100.
He further informed the House that the railroads were trying to boost waggon availability, which would reduce logistical costs for all sectors, including MSMEs and agriculture.
The minister also chastised the opposition for pointing out flaws in his ministry’s operations, claiming that Indian Railways had “policy paralysis” during the UPA rule but was able to get back on track when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office.