A posse of security forces from the Railways greets Members of Parliament (MPs) visiting suburban railway stations. Indian Railways also spends to make lavish arrangements for the stay and other requirements of MPs as per protocol.
However, when Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked the same MPs to use part of their funds for the development of Indian Railways yesterday, it seemed as if he had touched a raw nerve, for they began shouting to make their displeasure known.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
This was one of the highlights of the Union Rail Budget presentation yesterday, and it raised questions about the MPs’ reservations to the idea. Halfway through his speech, Prabhu asked MPs to help the Railways by using part of their Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds to develop stations and other railway facilities.
This is when several MPs, most of them from the Opposition began shouting “No, no, no…”. “We have increased the funds allotment for passenger amenities by 67 per cent. I request all corporates, NGOs, charitable institutions and religious institutions to come forward and invest generously for passenger amenities from their CSR fund.
I also request all MPs to use part of their MPLAD funds to improve facilities at railway stations,” said Prabhu in his speech. While many MPs booed Prabhu, some others had contributed even before the railway budget. Prabhu mentioned the names of MP Gopal Shetty from North Mumbai constituency and MP P C Mohan from Bengaluru Central.
Shetty had given Rs 1.5 crore from his MPLAD funds (Each MP gets around Rs 2-3 crore annually), while Mohan had given Rs 1 crore to develop amenities for railway passengers. “The rail minister appealed to us for donating MPLAD funds for general development of railway stations.
So I gave the money around a month ago. When Prabhu himself asks Gopal, how can Gopal refuse?” Shetty told mid-day. He added that he would like to see toilets and FOBs being constructed, level crossings being shut and fences being placed along tracks.
Prabhu also hinted at taking the help of MPs in resolving local land issues for railway projects and spreading the message of cleanliness. Sources said the Railways is looking at appointing private agencies on
contract for maintaining cleanliness at stations.
Towards this end, a high-level official from the Railway Board in Delhi is expected to come to Mumbai, where 18 suburban stations are expected to be identified for the same.