For the new government, the Shakespearean protagonist's dilemma, to be or not to be, is no more acts as fetters that lead to inactivity; so the case seems to be, at least for the Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda. Indications are clear that there is no more confusion on whether to 'hike or not to hike' the fare for railway passengers and freight; and whether to 'allow or not to allow' FDI in Railways – hither to considered as 'Achilles heals' of government in power.
Decisions on both the agenda are expected soon. "We are discussing the matter (increasing the fare) and, within three-four days, will come to a conclusion," said Gowda. There is a perceptible sign of urgency – an urgency to bring tangible results. He added, "The new government stands for change and faster development." No wonder, Gowda reiterated the government's mantra, 'either perform or perish'.
As far as FDI in Railways is concerned the minister said, "Practically, we are short of resources, which is well-known to the people of the world. So, some resource mobilisation should be taken as being one of the priorities of Railways. I want to have discussions with the commerce ministry." Gowda has already discussed the matters with Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister and has been asked to come up with suggestions to take the matter forward. "In a day or two, I will have a meeting with the commerce ministry and will come up with a clear (stand) as far as FDI is concerned," he said.
Modernisation of Railways has been long pending – be it enhancing safety and security, increasing average speed, punctuality, quality and efficiency, which all have found a part in the 'priority agenda'. Developing Diamond quadrilateral project of high-speed trains and networking freight corridors can happen when FDI is allowed. Not only the Railways but the whole nation could benefit from FDI in the Railways sector. One of the priorities of the government is to enhance the competitiveness of Railways to 100 per cent; to make it more competitive than the road sector, is a welcome sign.
For the Original Equipment Manufacturers, there are reasons for a smile. These projects once get into execution, are sure to boost the demand for a myriad of equipment as the amount of aggregates needed will be huge – be they drills, crushers and screens, earthmoving, concreting and material handling equipment.
Another development is the approval given for big projects worth Rs 21K crore which includes a 235 km railway line that is critical to tap Chhattisgarh's second largest iron ore reserves. The project was proposed in 1983 by SAIL along with NMDC. The clearance for the second stage railway line between Dallirajhra and Jagdalpur in the Bastar district, which was stuck due various reasons, has now been cleared by Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment and Forests.