Feb 18, 2014

Parliamentary panel recommends amendment of Railways Act

Taking note of inordinate delays in execution of railway projects due to problem in land acquisition, a parliamentary committee has  recommended amendment in the Railway Act 1989 to make the process easier.
In its latest report, the Standing Committee on Railways has expressed dissatisfaction at the oft-repeated explanations given by Railways for delay in execution of projects because of issues over land acquisition and forestry clearances among others.  The committee has taken a serious view of the fact that even for national projects, Railways is facing problem of shortage of funds and desired that the Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry should review the situation urgently.
This comes in view of demands from the northeastern states for better connectivity and sanction of adequate financial support for these national projects.  There were also problems of adverse law and order situation and other market forces, failure of contracts and technological changes, improved standard of construction and other changes in scope of work due to change in traffic pattern, the committee observed, adding these problems are not new to the ministry and are being faced by it all through.
On the problem of land acquisition, the 31-member committee headed by DMK MP T R Baalu, felt that if need be, the Railway Act 1989 may be suitably amended to make the acquisition process easier and avoid inordinate delays in execution of projects.  Keeping in mind the important role of Railways in the socio-economic development of the country and in view of the large number of pending or ongoing projects of Railways and the task ahead in the expansion of railway network in the northeast and the Himalayan regions, the committee felt that the gross budgetary support (GBS) given by Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission ought to be supplemented suitably, commensurate with the needs of the ministry.
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