Gujarat CM sends letter to PM against railway freight fare hike, fourth letter in two week
“Withdraw immediately 20% hike in Railway freight fare imposed on public just before Railway Budget”: Narendra Modi asks Dr SinghGandhinagar, Wednesday: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has in a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today expressed his strong indignation at the Centre’s sudden decision to hike the Railways freight fare by a whopping 20 per cent through backdoor, just a week before the Railway Budget, diminishing the supremacy of the Parliament
Mr. Modi demanded immediate withdrawal of the unnerving hike, as it would cause an unprecedented burden on the common man and indirectly on the nation’s economy.
“Was the Central Government waiting for the results of the elections to five State Assemblies to impose an anti-people and anti-farmer policy?” he pointedly asked Dr. Singh.
He described the hike highly unjustified since the prices of a number of commodities, are already ruling at a much higher level than people’s tolerance limits. The freight rationalization would entail a jerk of Rs350 per tonne on food grains and fertilizers. The decision also reflects huge communication gap between the Ministries of Railway, Energy, Coal and Environment. This is despite the Prime Minister’s constituting a high-level committee for coordination.
Mr. Modi said that Gujarat will be most hit on the coal front, because the coalfields are far away. He said that rise in railway freight fare since 2006 has caused an additional burden of Rs.19,000-crore on Gujarat, on just one commodity. The latest hike would coast another Rs.300-crore on power generation.
The Chief Minister recalled that he had in a letter sent to the Prime Minister on February 11, 2008 pointed out that Gujarat got only nine lakh tonnes of coal through coal linkages from Western Coalfields, and the rest from farther away Southeastern Coalfields of inferior quality at higher prices, as against an annual requirement of 174-lakh tonnes. Instead of solving the problem all these year, he regretted, the Centre has been increasing the coal and prices as well as railway freight.