Inter-ministerial issues discussed at ‘strategy’ meet

“Make the Indian Railways the pehchan of Bharat (identity of India).” That was what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his interaction with various infrastructure Ministries, said a source present at the meeting.

In the meeting, which took place a day after the hike in rail fare and freight, “we were basically told to make common man the focus,” said the source.

Renewable energy

Evaluation of new ideas, which could lower the energy bill of the Railways such as solar power were discussed at the meeting.

Other issues discussed in the meeting were the use of light weight wagons that can carry more revenue-generating cargo and the need for the Railways to align with a university to start teaching rail-based courses to develop a talent pool. The discussions also focussed on public-private partnerships (PPP) and using space in stations for more advertisements to garner more revenue.According to sources, more coordination with States and with other Ministries was stressed upon. The Prime Minister has also asked for steps to encourage tourism in the North East.

Multiple issues

Inter-ministerial and inter-departmental issues including the Railways, Roads and Shipping were also discussed. “It was more like a strategy meet. Delays in environmental clearances and land acquisition were also discussed,” said the source.

Port and shipping sector problems that were discussed involved migration of investors, who have terminals in older port tariff regimes to newer regimes, and redefining the role of the tariff authority of major ports. Developing at least five major ports to international standards over the next four-five years was also on the agenda.

Civil aviation

Presentation by the Ministry of Civil Aviation was on creation of jobs in the sector, taking steps to remove bottlenecks and ensure growth of the sector.

Other issues raised include better utilisation of airport assets. India has over 400 air strips, a majority of which are lying unused.

Sources said the presentation also drew attention to the fact that the Government was keen to allow those serious about being in the aviation sector to continue doing business but was trying to come up with regulations that avoid a Kingfisher-airline-kind of situation.

(This article was published on June 23, 2014)
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