NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has ruled out privatisation of the public transporter as it cannot ignore the common man’s interest and will have to bear the public service obligation. The Indian Railways’ public services obligation is currently almost Rs 30,000-35,000 crore (approx US$ 4670.4-5448.7 Million).
- “This cannot be done in India. The railways will have to continue to be the only… I think the Railways is a mode of last resort for common people for transportation and we will have to bear that burden as well as the responsibility,” Prabhu said.
- He disapproved the idea of privatisation in an interactive session.
- He said,“You cannot say Railways’ problems will be solved by privatisation. The solution should be an outcome based approach. Very few railways in the world are privatised. Part of the UK railway was privatised. Who bought it? The Italian Railway which is controlled by the government of Italy. Government entity is buying it.”
- He asked, which private company will be interested to do this.
- He said,“Do you think the private airlines will do kissan special airline. We are concerned about the people travelling on train.”
- Highlighting the issue of the public service obligation, Prabhu gave examples of the worldwide practice.
- He said,“Somebody must pay for that as it happens globally. When you are doing this public service, it is a public service. So somebody must bear the public service obligation. And this happens globally.”
- Railways in Europe get the public service obligation reimbursed from the main budget, he said.
- Japan, when they privatised railways, they undertook the responsibility to pay for the public service obligation.
- Each country has a different system of accounting public service.
- He said,“I am very sure about it, we cannot ignore the common man’s interest, we have to do that. But the burden of that we providing that facility to the common people, if it is low cost, somebody must bear that public service obligation, that’s the philosophy.”
- Indian Railways has asked the NITI Aayog to look into the public service obligation aspect.
- Today it is almost Rs 30,000-35,000 crore (approx US$ 4670.4-5448.7 Million) public services obligation.