1. I rise to present before this august House the Statement of Estimated Receipts and Expenditure for 2014-15 for Railways. As I stand in this Temple of Democracy, I owe this opportunity to the people of this country who have elected us to represent them and to shape their destiny.
2. I am grateful to the Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Nar endra Modiji for having reposed his faith in me and entrusting th is huge responsibility of leading Indian Railways. I promise to fulfill this responsibility and make every endeavour not only to lead Indian Railways, but also aid in building a vibrant India under the dynamic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi ji.
3. It gives me immense pleasure to present my maiden Rai lway Budget. Indian Railways, being the nation's prime mover, is the structure and soul of Indian economy. It echoes rhyme and rhythm in the hearts of every citizen of this country - from Baramulla in the North to Kanyakumari in the South and from Okha in the West to Lekhapani in the East. Madam Speaker, we all know t hat Indian Railways cut across all barriers of regions, classes and creed and is a microcosm of India on the move.
4. From a man on the streets of Bengaluru to fish vendors in Kolkata to the hustle bustle at Nizamuddin Station, everywhere you find a citizen of this country rushing to connect with Ind ian Railways.
5. Madam Speaker, though I am hardly a month old in the office, I am flooded with requests and suggestions for new trains, new railway lines and better services from the Hon'ble Members of the Parliament, from my colleagues in the Government, from States, from stake holders, from organizations and from peo ple of all walks of life. I know that everybody feels that they have a solution for the 2 challenges which Indian Railways face. I too thought so when I was an outsider to this system before I was exposed to the intricacies and complexities of this vast organization. Now, I am o verwhelmed with the enormity of my responsibility in fulfilling the se expectations as Minister of Railways. This, Madam Speaker, reminds me of Kautilya's words
In the happiness of the people lies the Ruler's happiness Their welfare is his welfare What pleases him, the Ruler shall not consider good but whatever pleases his people the Ruler shall consider good - Kautilya's Arthashastra
6. Indian Railways run 12617 trains to carry over 23 million passengers per day connecting more than 7172 stations spread a cross the sub continent. It is equivalent to moving the entire pop ulation of the Australia. We run more than 7421 freight trains carrying about 3 Million Tonnes of freight every day. Madam Speaker, having achieved the distinction of entering the select club of railways of China, Russia and USA in carrying more than one billion tons of freight, I now target to become the largest freight carrier in the world.
7. Madam Speaker, as you know, apart from serving the p assengers, Indian Railways carries coal It carries steel It carries cement It carries salt It carries food grains and fodder and it also carries milk. 3 Thus, Indian Railways practically carries anything an d everything and it never says no to 'a thing' if it fits in the wagons. Most importantly, we are the backbone of supply chain of the defence establishment and play a very crucial role in securit y of the nation.
8. Madam Speaker, while we carry 23 million passengers a day, there are still large number of people who have not set a foot on a train yet. We carry over one-billion tonnes of freight a year, connecting ports and mines to industrial clusters, but still ther e are vast tracts of hinterland waiting for rail connectivity. Though fre ight business has grown steadily over the years, Indian Railways carry only 31% of the total freight carried in the country by all modes. T hese are the challenges we have to face.
9. Madam Speaker, an organization of this magnitude vested with varied responsibilities, is expected to earn like a commercial enterprise but serve like a welfare organization. Th ese two objectives are like two rails of the railway track, which though travel together but never meet. So far, Indian Railways have managed to do tight-rope walking by balancing these twin conflict ing objectives.
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