Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023 07:45 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023 02:04 [IST]

On the right tracks

It is true that India’s development has soft imperatives if we want the human-resource multiplier of mass education duly leveraged by healthcare to support our economy in the long run, but its most visible site of change is clearly public infrastructure. Ever since the industrial age began, fast-moving shiny objects have led perceptions of advancement; so it was no surprise that the Narendra Modi government made a railway spruce-up one of its top priorities after taking charge. Expectations were raised by talk of leaping from a legacy of the British Raj to an aerodynamic era of ‘bullet trains’ and modern stations, as seen in better-off countries. In the political arena, this project of an Indian Railways 2.0 was touted as a break from the gravy-train map of past administrations that were content chugging along with a creaky system and often treated railway jobs, routes and stops as poll sops for regional constituents.

So it came as no surprise that a significant feature of the Budget for FY2023-24 presented last week is its support to the Railways, for which it has set aside nearly a quarter of its total capex outlay (excluding grants for capital expenditure to States) of ?10 lakh crore. The Budgetary support amounts to ?2.4 lakh crore, which is nine times higher than 2013-2014, with the rest of the Railways’ capex thrust largely met by borrowings (just ?17,000 crore, against ?81,700 crore in FY23, a marked structural shift in the Railways’ finances) and internal resources (?3,000 crore). In a major boost for Uttar Pradesh, the Centre has provided the state with the highest allocation of funds to the Railways in the Union Budget 2023-24. Uttar Pradesh has got a record allocation of Rs 17,507 crore from a total of Rs 2.4 lakh crore given to the Indian Railways. According to earlier reports, around 46 stations are to be redeveloped in NCR under the Amri Bharat Scheme. The lion’s share of funds given to UP will definitely help NCR among others in redeveloping its railway infrastructure including doubling of lines, gauge conversion, construction of bridges, facelifting of stations, rail track renewal etc.

This allocation is also meant to increase the modal share of the Railways in goods and passenger traffic on grounds of energy efficiency. The Ministry of Railways has pointed out that railways are six times more energy efficient compared to road. This is the highest-ever allocation of funds to the railways. This year’s railway budget is expected to focus on the completion of incomplete projects and also on the development of infrastructure. The focus will be on getting high-speed trains operational soon. This is certainly set in motion the modernisation of Indian railways.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi