The Union Budget for 2023-24 announced the highest-ever capital outlay for the Railways at Rs 2.4 lakh crore. Following this, Minister of Railways, Communications, and Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw spoke to Republic's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. The minister threw light on the transformation the trains as well as the stations have undergone over the past eight years.
Vaishnaw said, "10 years back the number of railway tracks we were installing every day was just about 4 km a day. Today, that number is 12 km a day. That is a significant jump, which has been possible only because of the reforms that Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji has brought about in railways."
"Today's budget allocation will go a long way in fulfilling the infrastructure deficit that Railways has had over decades. And that deficit can be filled up only by adding more capacity, changing the Railway's stations, and having new types of trains. This requires a total transformation which you have seen over the years, and this will be accelerated further," he said.
At a press conference at the AICC headquarters, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram termed the budget as "callous" and said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has not mentioned the words unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity anywhere in her Budget speech.
Retorting to Chidambaram's sharp criticism, Vaishnaw suggested he sees the track record of the incumbent government and claimed that whatever was promised had been delivered.
"He has been a Finance Minister, he should understand MGNREGA is a demand-driven scheme so whatever allocations made today are nominal in that sense. If there is more demand, immediately in the RE state it is very much possible to have more allocations," the Union Minister said.