Privatization of Indian Railways – Bibek Debroy Committee Recommendations

Privatization of Indian Railways – Bibek Debroy Committee Recommendations

Private companies in Railways: Debrai Committee Recommendations

“Roads are common for all. Keeping private players away from road transport services was impossible. But, until this day, railway tracks belong solely to the Government.”

Railway continues to be the best, safe and most economic means of transportation for the masses. Also undeniable is the fact that among the government-run organizations, Indian Railways are the only ones that are used by millions of Indians every day. Above 90% of Rail users of our country, who travel in general and sleeper classes, Railway Board should consider for them. The mere fact that the government is planning to privatize the railways is being criticized widely.

Everything that is run by private concerns – from buses to aeroplanes – cost more, according to 80% of the Indian population. You only need Rs.850 to travel all the way from New Delhi to Chennai. The fares are lower for senior citizens.

Traveling from Chennai to Nellore in a private bus would cost you Rs.1000. Depending on factors like weekends and festive occasions, the fares could be arbitrarily raised. The state and central government have failed to control these blatant violations. Amidst this chaos, the Debrai Committee is going to recommend that private companies be permitted to operate train services.

The Bibek Debrai Committee was constituted by Narendra Modi to streamline the functioning of Indian railway operations. The committee has submitted its report and recommendations to the government. The committee has suggested that private players be allowed to run trains and that private companies be permitted to manufacture railway bogies and engines.

There is no denial of the fact that some departments in the Indian Railways need serious reforms, it is saddening to see that all the recommendations are in favour of allowing private companies to enter this sector.

The following are some of the recommendations that have been welcomed:
The railways do not require separate accounts to be presented. An allocation of funds in the central budget is more than enough.
The number of zones and regions must be reduced.
The leaders and top management officials of these zones must be given enough powers to make some crucial decisions.
Each region should have some financial discretion.
Gazetted officers must be appointed as station masters of major railway stations.
Railway regulatory board must be constituted.

22% of the revenue generated by the railways is spent on pension. Instead, the committee has suggested that pension should be allocated from other funds, thereby easing the financial deficit of the railways. This has been welcomed by the railway labour unions.

Private telecom companies are making millions in profits, but BSNL is making losses. Similarly, if private companies are allowed to enter the railway sector, very soon, the government-owned trains will start incurring huge losses. The service offered by private companies might be good, but the fares will be phenomenal. Soon, this would make train journey unaffordable to the common man.

“Railways and the train tracks should always be owned by the Government alone. Please do not sell them away to private companies!”


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